We really value the topic of student mental health being discussed in the press and have seen how important this can be in promoting positive and supportive messages. Unfortunately, a couple of articles released this week have added to a long list of pieces from particular media outlets which have sought to wrongly demonize students, academics and universities. These articles do not show the full picture and are trying to divide the Higher Education community.
It is legitimate for the community to have collaborative conversations about what is expected from students undergoing a degree. It’s also vital that we listen and respond to students who are raising concerns about the range of pressures that they experience. Students deserve to have a voice about these competing demands, from financial pressures to balancing part-time work with study, and anticipating the competitive job market.
Students are right to encourage each other to prioritise their health alongside balancing a fulfilling course of study that is right for them. A number of students can become isolated, which is a risk factor to developing mental illness. We need to encourage students to build the necessary support networks and friendships with which to thrive at university, as well as encouraging positive interactions between academics and students. Ultimately, if we support one another to create academic communities where students can thrive this will be good for retention, student satisfaction and academic outcomes.
Student Minds works with students, academics and a range of university support staff and we know that this whole community is working to critically engage with the issues surrounding mental health and alcohol productively. A range of programmes are underway across the UK to improve mental health literacy and the range of support across institutions.
Some articles that are currently circulating are doing a disservice to all involved and have lost the nuance of this issue. We strongly criticise the narrative of these articles, which promote offensive attitudes about mental health. As a society we need to acknowledge this is a complex issue needing structural change.
We welcome more nuanced articles about student mental health in the media and will happily speak to journalists wanting to change this outdated narrative and help transform the state of student mental health.
For further information about support available to university students at university please visit: http://www.studentminds.org.uk/further-support
For our press hub and press guidelines visit: http://www.studentminds.org.uk/press-hub