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!
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.
Student Minds and Hope partner to release “Coping with University Life through a Family Health Crisis” guide
Leaving home to become a university student is an important transition in anyone's life, but when a student has a family member who needs ongoing support, chances are they are used to caring for them and may be worrying about them too.
Hope, the UK charity who support young people when a close family member is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, have created a brand new guide for university students. As a part of the Uni Wellbeing series on our “Resources” section, this guide provides useful tips to help students make an informed decision about leaving home, staying in touch with family when far away, and taking care of themselves.
Today HEPI published their report “The Invisible Problem? Improving Students’ Mental Health”. We welcome the discussion of the mental health and wellbeing of students and staff in Higher Education and are pleased to have given feedback in the production of the report.
Education providers have a duty of care and a legal responsibility to students with any disabilities including severe or enduring mental health difficulties. As well as developing specialist services, the Disability Discrimination Act states that it is a positive duty for universities to promote the equality of students and staff with disabilities. In terms of the implementation of this, the HEPI report showcases some innovative and resourceful examples of best practice in universities across the UK. We hope that this inspire other universities to take strategic leadership in prioritising a whole university approach to mental wellbeing. Students need support at all levels: from their peers, from their family, from their tutors and from university and NHS support services.
Student mental health needs to be a joint responsibility between the NHS and universities, and collaborative working between Higher Education institutions, statutory and voluntary services is key. Our vision is for all universities and health services to recognise positive mental health as a priority for student success.
Our response to the policy recommendations
“Allowing students to be simultaneously registered with a general practitioner (GP) at home and at university”
“Offering alternative appointment times if there is a clash with exams or study leave”
“At universities currently spending the least, funding for counselling and other support services needs to be increased at least threefold”
“Encouraging universities to collect data and conduct a self-review of their mental health policies, before creating an action plan detailing what needs to be improved and how.”
“Ensuring vulnerable students on leave from studying have sufficient mental health care provision in place.”
“Providing robust support arrangements for students with a history of mental health problems who are studying abroad or on placement”
“Providing training on mental health policy and awareness to all university staff.”
"Signposting reliable sources of information regarding mental health, for example the Expert Self Care (ESC) Student app.”
“Ensuring more funding for mental health research, so that the new Office for Students (OfS) and other relevant bodies have robust data on the prevalence of mental health problems among higher education students.”
The report also discusses trigger warnings.
"We would add the recommendation that all lecturers should reflect on whether any of their content could be triggering (i.e. talking about rape, sexual assault, violence, suicide, self-harm, body image/weight), and make an assessment about whether this is absolutely necessary. Where necessary to the course content, it should be covered as factually as possible, with explicit and graphic details removed. If it is necessary, is it covered as factually as possible? Explicit or graphic details should be removed. Content notes on the course should be shared at the start of the course, flagging potentially distressing lectures well in advance and inviting concerned students to discuss these issues with the lecturer - we should be encouraging frank and open discussion about triggering issues, in an appropriate space. It is not appropriate to present trigger warnings at the start of or midway through a lecture as no student wants to be the one to get up and leave.”
– Nicola Byrom
Exciting news! We're delighted that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry have adopted the #HeadsTogether message for a national campaign to tackle mental health stigma. The Royal Foundation shared that in developing the campaign, the team were inspired by the 'Heads Together' campaign from Student Minds and UMHAN for University Mental Health Day earlier this year and loved the collaborative message of our campaign.
We couldn't agree more on the value of peer support and the importance of organisation's working together and look forward to watching this fantastic campaign progress over the coming year!
For more information about how we've been encouraging students and university staff to get their #HeadsTogether on campuses visit; http://www.studentminds.org.uk/headstogether
Updates on the campaign lead by the Royal Foundation can be found here; https://www.headstogether.org.uk
Sector leaders get their #HeadsTogether to support student mental health on University Mental Health Day 2016
Today is University Mental Health Day, an initiative coordinated by UMHAN and Student Minds and supported by a range of sector bodies and charities, to raise the profile of mental health amongst the university community and kick-start further activity. In recognition of ‘Heads Together’, the theme of University Mental Health Day 2016, we've asked a number of representatives working in the area of student mental health to share their perspectives and key recommendations for the Higher Education sector on supporting student mental health.
Luciana Berger, Labour & Cooperative MP for Liverpool Wavertree, shadow minister for mental health:
“Today’s students face unprecedented anxiety and stress over money, accommodation, safety and job prospects. What should be a time of intellectual curiosity and personal development can be, for some, a time of uncertainty and worry. For many students, time at university is marred by a mental health condition. All too often, treatable, manageable conditions are made worse by stigma and prejudice. For some, mental illness at university becomes debilitating or even life-threatening. Despite the steps forward by campaigners, students unions and university authorities, we still have so much more to do to support students.
First, we need proper parity between mental and physical health services, so that patients in each are treated equally well. Second, we need greater understanding of mental illness from university and academic staff. Students with mental illness need guidance and support currently denied in too many cases. Third, we need greater awareness amongst students about the realities of mental illness, so no student is stigmatised or shunned. Across the country, mental services are under strain, especially those providing for young people. Ministers need to take note, and take action. One in four of us will experience some kind of mental illness in any year. We need a revolution in the way it is perceived and treated, and that includes in our universities and colleges.”
Geraldine Strathdee, National Clinical Director for Mental Health, NHS England:
“Mental health has risen up the political agenda, and on January 11th, 2016 the Prime Minister of England David Cameron announced that mental health is one of the top government pan party priorities in the ‘Life Chances’ strategy.
Universities, colleges and higher education are the places where our future leaders gather, it is where exciting programmes to help people better understand how to develop their own mental health and resilience, how to support each other as peers through good and challenging times and where how to promote psychologically healthy communities is developing.
My challenges are: Can we look to you to model physically and mentally healthy lifestyles, for this exciting generation to show us how it's done? How do colleagues think we can use the world of digital and social media to change attitudes to mental health in our society, and what's the appetite for online therapy and self-management tools?”
Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice Chancellor, The University of Buckingham:
“Universities are at last waking up to their moral responsibility for their students’ mental health. There is so much more that they need to do to help ensure that their students minimise difficulties and maximise their flourishing and healthy enjoyment of university life.”
Sir Anthony has set out a 10 point plan for universities in tackling these issues: http://www.buckingham.ac.uk/latest-news/crisis-in-university-mental-health/
Lydia Pell, Chair: University Mental Health Advisors Network (UMHAN) and Mental Health Advisor, City University London:
“University Mental Health and Wellbeing Day was initiated by UMHAN in 2012 to increase national awareness of students who experience mental health difficulties whilst at university and to open up conversations amongst students, academics, mental health advisors, counsellors and external support agencies to think together about students’ support needs.
The role of a mental health advisor is to help students navigate barriers that may exist in the university environment in order to achieve their potential. Over the past six years one huge challenge has been to support students with this whilst NHS and 3rd sector services have been cut, meaning more students with complex needs are struggling to access psychiatric assessments or prompt diagnosis and treatment, making it even harder to study. Mental Health Advisors have been helping students to access specialist services alongside thinking about university and have often been the difference between a relapse and withdrawal of study vs stable mental health and achieving good degrees.
In recent years universities have become better at considering creative adjustments to support students with mental health conditions and my main hope for #UniMentalHealthDay2016 is that it encourages VCs and Pro VCs to think about whether they are driving creative inclusive teaching delivery and course design in their institutions which will remove barriers for many students with mental health conditions. I love the work I do because I get to see resourceful and resilient students demonstrate their ability and flourish academically and hopefully along the way reduce some stigma by being able to be open about their mental health on days like #UniMentalHealthDay2016”
Rosie Tressler, Chief Executive Officer, Student Minds:
“Just 5 or so years ago, only a handful of universities were marking University Mental Health Day, and only a handful of student mental health groups existed. To see over 60 universities delivering a range of collaborative activities today – students and staff, universities and health providers, cross-departmental projects - fills me with optimism. And we’re going to need it. There is a lot changing in student support that raises concern. Disabled Students Allowance has altered, and there is increasing demand for university services and referrals at a time when real spending on NHS mental health services has reduced. Across the sector, staff are responding by getting their #HeadsTogether with other colleagues to think about how we respond to these challenges.
My key recommendation, within a comprehensive whole - institution approach, is to listen to the student voice and explore opportunities to work with students. Peer support programmes are running in a good proportion of the sector now, in a range of forms from structured programmes to informal workshops, such as the Look After Your Mate workshops running at a number of institutions right now. But, as identified in Student Minds ‘Looking After A Mate’ research, students providing support need support themselves; they need help working out what their role is and how they can provide support while taking care of themselves too. Providing preventative opportunities for all members of the university community to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to look after their own mental health, is a crucial part of the jigsaw.”
Professor Jo Smith, Early Intervention and Psychosis and ' Suicide Safer' Project Lead at the University of Worcester:
“Intervention opportunities for young people are being missed in the unique social contexts of universities and colleges. Student mental health problems can have damaging long-term effects that for some, in the absence of effective early intervention, may lead to suicide. This has devastating impacts on family, friends and the university community, as well as other costs. Student suicide is viewed as a low frequency event (based on the limited data we have). Stigma and under-reporting reveal only the tip of the iceberg. Actions often focus on minimising impact when it happens, hoping each case is an isolated tragedy that will escape public attention and scrutiny. Suicide prevention efforts could work so much better where there is joint working between local health services, public health departments and universities to address student mental health difficulties. Universities should be recognised as an important agency that must be at the table when commissioning for a population’s mental health needs. At the University of Worcester we’ve started to take joint preventative actions in partnership with local health and public health colleagues. Partnering with national bodies like the NUS and Student Minds, we’re identifying student suicide as a neglected area that warrants attention.”
Ben Lewis, Chair, AMOSSHE; The Student Services Organisation:
“Student services are fundamental to how Universities respond to student mental health issues. We, together with academic staff and our students, work to ensure our campuses provide a safe place for students to learn and achieve to the best of their ability. Student services leaders face a three-fold challenge: expectation, complexity and resource.
Firstly, student expectations of the services our Universities provide have changed enormously. The consequence is an expectation that Universities will have the tools to ‘fix’ a situation, regardless of the nature of the problem. Secondly, AMOSSHE membership across the sector report the complexity of student mental health issues presenting in our Universities now routinely extends far beyond the traditional remit of student counselling. Finally, our members report growing resource issues. AMOSSHE surveys of our membership tell us that since the increase in tuition fees in 2010 there has not been a significant increase in resource to enable services to grow.
Student services must work creatively to meet demand. Our institutions need to consider what extra they can do to enable greater student resilience and to ensure risks to individuals are safely managed, including working closely with community organisations and pushing the agenda for adequate resourcing of local mental health services.”
Sean O’Shea, CEO of UPP, student accommodation provider:
“As a business working in long term partnerships with 14 universities, we provide homes for 30,000 students each year, most of whom have moved away from home for the first time. Concern for mental health has been rising both within the HE sector and more widely, and coming into contact with many of these students every day we believe we all have a role to play in addressing these incredibly important issues and improving the support available to all students. We are pleased to be working collaboratively with Student Minds, considering innovative ways that we can better support our own teams to help students as well as improve the student experience for everyone living in our residences.”
Ruth Caleb, Chair of Mental Wellbeing and Higher Education group:
“Universities have an important role to play in providing support for students with mental health difficulties. As Chair of the Mental Wellbeing in HE Working Group (MWBHE), supported by Universities UK, I and the entire working group are dedicated to supporting not just those students with diagnosed mental health issues but also the mental wellbeing of all members of the university community. To this end UUK published the Student Mental Wellbeing in HE Good Practice Guide (2015), written by MWBHE members, to offer a holistic view of mental wellbeing in institutions. It outlines the responsibilities for all university staff including senior management, and offers guidance in policy development, duty of care, legal considerations, support services, training and partnership liaison. Each university is different and the use of this guidance will depend on the nature of the student cohort and the particular challenges the institution may face. Our aim is to encourage and to inform further developments within individual institutions. I recommend that universities consider setting up a mental wellbeing working group to review and implement the recommendations set out in this guidance (available to download) to help them to monitor and evaluate outcomes.”
Shelly Asquith, NUS vice president (welfare), and Maddy Kirkman, NUS disabled students’ officer:
“The number of students experiencing mental health problems is on the rise. Student suicide is not an inevitable phenomenon within a sizable population but a serious issue that needs to be addressed rather than ignored. It is in the interests of the education sector and society as a whole to support students facing mental health difficulties and to create environments that are open and free of stigma. Our work needs to not only focus on the crisis in mental health support, but must look at the way in which academic and campus environments cause mental health problems in the first place.
NUS recommends investment in mental health services. When student numbers rise, investment should increase proportionately so no student misses out on the help they need. With the current strain on the NHS, embedded support provided by institutions is more important than ever. These services need to be safeguarded from cuts as they are fundamental to the student experience and should not be closed as a method of cost cutting. Ultimately, institutions need to take their responsibility for students' wellbeing seriously - we study to develop our minds, not damage them.”
For more information on University Mental Health Day visit: http://www.studentminds.org.uk/uni-mental-health-day-2016
Hot off the press and officially filed with the Charities Commission, we are delighted to be able to share the Student Minds' Annual Report with you. Download the report below to join us in celebrating the development of our university groups, our Positive Minds programme showing significant increases in student quality of life, and the launch of exciting training programmes and partnerships.
Thank you to everyone that's played a part in our most successful year yet... especially our inspirational student volunteers!
Announcing Student Minds newest workshop for university staff: Look After Your Mate Train the Trainer!
With thanks to Santander, staff members in universities across the country can now sign up to our 1 day workshop and receive training to deliver the Look After Your Mate workshop on their campus.
“There is no lesson at school that prepares you for supporting a friend with a mental health difficulty…These resources are very exciting and I would have loved to have had access to them back at the beginning of my supporting experience.”
Vicky Gall, Head of Volunteering at Student Minds
We know that the state of student mental health is a pressing issue.
We also know that the support students can offer each other is key to changing attitudes and fostering an environment of support in universities.
Our Look After Your Mate workshops equip students with the skills and knowledge to support a friend who is struggling with their mental health and gives them the confidence to reach out to a friend for the first time. As well as the workshop, the Look After Your Mate campaign provides members of the university community with access to a range of resources including an activities toolkit and an online guide for friends.
The workshop ran in 8 cities across the country in 2014/15, and from the workshops the student were reported to have had a 29% increase in their knowledge of how to support a friend. With its growing success and demand, we are pleased to announce that Student Minds have developed Look After Your Mate into a 1 day workshop, train the trainer model for staff in universities nationwide.
The dates for the training are:
Wednesday 9th March- City University, London
Wednesday 30th March- Leeds University
The workshop has a £250.00 registration fee and £10 to sign up for annual membership which means you will have access to our staff hub which will include training resources, a forum for trainers and useful advice on running the workshops on your campus.
Click here to find out more about the Train the Trainer workshop.
To register your interest, sign up here to the dates you wish to attend. If you have any questions in regards to the training please contact email@example.com
From summer 2015, Higher Education institutions will have access to a new training programme which aims to increase the knowledge, confidence and skills of the HE sports community in the area of mental health and wellbeing. Student Minds (the UK’s student mental health charity), BUCS - British Universities & Colleges Sport (the governing body for university sport in the UK) and Sport in Mind ® (the independent UK mental health sports charity) have come together to develop the programme, following wide consultation with sports development staff, focus groups and pilot workshops with students at the universities of Oxford, Nottingham and Southampton.
The project will involve the development of a guidance and policy pack for the sector and the launch of a mental health training programme tailored to the roles of staff working in university sport. As well as building their own understanding and skills, this programme will also equip HE sports staff with everything they need to deliver and cascade out a new interactive mental health training module to their own university clubs and sports teams. The student–facing training module, which institutions will be able to slot into existing training structures, has already been successfully piloted with the support of the project’s university and SU partners, the University of Nottingham Students’ Union and the University of Southampton Students’ Union.
On the launch of the project, Rosie Tressler, Networks and Projects Manager at Student Minds said:
“We’re really excited to be working with partners specialising in HE Sport to target our messages around how students can look after their own mental health and support their friends to this specific audience and sports context. University sport staff and fellow team mates can be the first to pick up on the signs that a student may be struggling and can be key to creating a positive and supportive club culture. This project will build capacity within institutions and SU’s to respond to the challenges and the opportunities in an appropriate, integrated and sustainable way, whilst also celebrating the positive impact that sport can have on student mental health.”
Sport in Mind’s founder, Neil Harris, said: “Sport in Mind specialises in delivering supported sports projects to help aid the recovery of people experiencing mental health problems. We are passionate about raising awareness of mental health problems and the impact regular engagement in sport can have on our health and wellbeing. Our charity is pleased to be able to support this fantastic project and make a real difference to the lives of students across the UK.”
In terms of what this means for the HE Sports sector, Heather Smith, Sports Development Coordinator at BUCS commented: "BUCS is delighted to be working with two fantastic organisations in Sport in Mind and Student Minds on this project. Both charities have a deep knowledge of the challenges surrounding Mental Health as well as experience of practical delivery for students both within university and community settings. The development of a resource and training is a huge step forwards in both recognising the power of sport in student wellbeing and in creating a sporting environment that is supportive and welcoming for all students."
The project also presents new opportunities for Students' Unions. Chloe Averill, Equal Opportunities & Welfare Officer at the University of Nottingham and a member of the stakeholder group, who has been working to get more sports students talking about mental health, added: “It has been amazing working with these organisations to help develop training that will benefit both staff and students by increasing their knowledge of mental health. Myself and our Sports Officer, Kiri, wanted to start a campaign to identify and reduce the barriers to sport, get students talking about mental health and increase their knowledge and confidence in the area. Our involvement with Student Minds and BUCS has enabled our campaign to go from strength to strength. We are incredibly excited that our staff and students will be given training that will benefit both those who are already involved in sport and those who are eager to join."
University staff can register their interest in the programme by signing up here.
University Mental Health Day is the UK's biggest day of student mental health campaigning, organised by Student Minds and the University Mental Health Advisers Network (UMHAN). Over 60 universities are taking part on Wednesday 18th February to promote the mental health of those who live and work in higher education settings.
The #IChoseToDisclose campaign will share information about disclosing mental health difficulties so that students can understand how the process works and can gain confidence through hearing about the positive experiences of others. UMHAN will be answering questions on the Student Room, the UK's biggest online student community, from 3pm on University Mental Health Day.
Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity. We empower students with the knowledge, confidence and skills to look after their own mental health and support others through our national network of university groups. One conversation at a time, we will transform the state of student mental health.
This work by Student Minds is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License