Following collaboration on the joint “Student Living” pilot project at Nottingham Trent University, the UPP Foundation and Student Minds have launched a student mental health guidance pack. The report is focussed on cross-organisation collaboration to support student mental health in the place where students spend most of their time, their accommodation.
For university students, the uniqueness of living in an environment where hundreds of young people live in the same place for the first time can constitute a major life transition. If a student is experiencing mental health difficulties, it can often be accommodation staff - a cleaner, the night porter or security staff - that pick up on issues. As such, if the HE sector is truly going to deliver a strategic, whole-university approach to mental health in our institutions, the approach must involve accommodation professionals.
The guidance pack - entitled “Student Living: Collaborating to Support Student Mental Health in University Accommodation” – concludes the joint pilot project, an initiative focused on training front-line staff and student resident assistants at Nottingham Trent University in supporting student mental health. The report uses the evidence from this project, interviews with frontline staff and experts, and input from students and graduates as well as case studies, to provide the HE sector with a series of recommendations on how to support mental health, particularly those living in purpose built student accommodation.
The report explores 6 key topics that can support university and accommodation colleagues to implement this approach; Auditing referral pathways and policies, workplace wellbeing strategies for staff, mental health & welfare training for accommodation staff, provision of information and resources for students, community building, and designing buildings for wellbeing.
About the programme Dr Paul Marshall, Chair of the Board of Trustees at the UPP Foundation, said:
“One of the key UPP Foundation goals is increasing student retention and helping to erode the barriers many students face to remaining in higher education. Student mental health is an extremely important issue and the UPP Foundation recognises the unique difficulties that can arise for students with mental health issues whilst studying at university. From a university perspective, it remains vital to adapt a strategic approach to wellbeing and invest in mental health. Cultivating environments and communities that are supportive of mental health, and providing timely access to support services, is the most effective approach to reducing mental health difficulties in our society. We are extremely proud to have been involved in this exciting opportunity with Student Minds to develop a research-led, bespoke project in UPP accommodation at Nottingham Trent University and are confident that our resulting guidance pack will help to inform the sector’s approach to student mental health.”
Rosie Tressler, CEO Student Minds:
“It’s been great to have the opportunity to collaborate with the UPP Foundation and Nottingham Trent University in developing this whole-community approach to supporting student mental health at NTU. Around a third of students may be experiencing levels of psychological distress, so equipping staff to create supportive communities and taking health promotion and peer support to where students actually live and socialise provides exciting opportunities for prevention and supporting students to manage this important transition.”
Student Minds welcomes commitment from university and privately owned accommodation providers to develop support for students in their care, whilst acknowledging that important work is being undertaken by other partners around accommodation affordability. We hope that our public report enables greater cross-sector collaboration and shared learning between university and accommodation sectors, and complements the upcoming strategic programme led by Universities UK to encourage universities to take a strategic, whole-university approach to supporting student and staff mental health.
The report is now available here.
where staff or students will also have the opportunity to share their views and ideas.
Student Minds has beaten more than 400 organisations from all over the UK to be one of the 10 winners of the 2017 GSK IMPACT Awards, a national award that recognises excellence in charities improving health and wellbeing in their communities. We will receive £30,000 in funding as part of its prize, as well as expert support and development from The King’s Fund.
The academic, financial and social pressures faced by students has led to growing concerns over the state of student mental health. An estimated three-quarters of lifetime mental illness begins by the time people are in their mid-twenties, making it particularly important that young people receive the care and support they need.
Katie Pinnock, Director of UK and Ireland Charitable Partnerships at GSK, said:
"Student Minds is a small charity having a big impact on the promotion of good mental health in universities.
Through its dynamic campaigns and support for volunteers, Student Minds has been really successful in raising awareness of mental health issues and equipping students with the tools they need to look after their own mental health. Student Minds is an outstanding charity that’s achieved a lot in a relatively short amount of time, making it a worthy winner of a GSK IMPACT Award."
Rosie Tressler, Chief Executive of Student Minds, said:
"While around a third of students may experience mental health difficulties at university, all members of the university community can benefit from building health literacy and coping skills to manage the ups and downs of life. Student Minds was founded to encourage students to talk about mental health and promote the idea that recovery is possible. Complementary to formal mental health services, other means of care such as peer support can be an opportunity for early intervention and can help individuals to sustain positive changes in their lives.
We’re thrilled to receive this GSK IMPACT Award, which recognises the importance of our work and the fantastic contribution made by our volunteers. The award will help us develop as an organisation and continue delivering support for students in the future."
Celebrating the award with us? Tweet using the hashtag #GSKIMPACTUK and tell us why you’re proud about our ongoing work to change the state of student mental health. You can find out more about Student Mind’s year in our Annual Report 2015/16
2015-16 has been the biggest year yet for Student Minds. With over 250 students attending our peer support groups, 524 staff and students trained in our workshops and over 6 million Twitter accounts reached with #UniMentalHealthDay alone, we have had a great year of successes to shout about.
Head to our Impact section to read our Annual Report and celebrate our year with us!
Thank you to everyone (volunteers, university staff, bloggers, campaigners, funders) who continue to help us change the state of student mental health!
Student Minds, UK's student mental health charity, explain what effect Theresa May's announcement may have on the mental health of students.
May's promise for mental health training to be implemented in schools is welcome. We need to equip our young people with the knowledge, confidence and skills to recognise mental health difficulties in themselves and others, and how to provide appropriate support.
Improving mental health literacy in schools could have a large impact on how university students are equipped to manage the significant challenge of the transition out of school to university. This is an issue which comes up time and time again in our research and reports from the HE sector.
We would agree that mental health currently does not have parity of esteem with physical health. With 1 in 10 young people aged 5-16 experiencing a mental health difficulty, we hope funding allocations for mental health begin to accurately reflect this following this announcement. We need to ensure mental health services are properly resourced to close the treatment gap for mental health, and this funding must be protected as currently it can be used by other NHS services.
We welcome a focus on young peoples’ mental health within government which adds to the significant work going on within the Higher Education sector to advocate for young people’s mental health. Universities UK has established a programme of work on wellbeing in higher education to ensure that wellbeing and mental health are a strategic priority for universities. Student Minds’ is working with The National Union of Students to ensure that students are central to the direction of this work, as we believe in a person-centred approach to mental health support which also promotes mental health and wellbeing across university communities.
We look forward to seeing how the Government’s programme develops and hope that universities will also be engaged in the dialogue. Visit our Research page to find out more about our work on university student mental health.