This month UWE launched its Mental Wealth First Initiative, setting out its strategic response to a whole university approach to mental health and wellbeing, in response to the StepChange framework. We have been working with UWE, York and Cardiff to support students to input into their strategy development. Student Minds Policy Manager, Rachel Piper, spoke at the launch event. In this post we share some of her key messages and a recording of her speech.
We believe that those with lived experience of mental health difficulties - the ones receiving, seeking or in need of support - are experts by experience, and therefore should be active participants and partners in shaping a whole university approach to mental health and wellbeing at their institutions.
At Student Minds, we are excited to be empowering a movement of students to advocate for change towards positive mental health and wellbeing at their universities. We have enjoyed supporting the development of UWE’s Mental Wealth First initiative to involve students in codesign and co-production. The HEFCE funded programme has also supported us to work with Cardiff and York, and Universities UK to look at the best ways for effective collaboration between students and universities.
From this we are learning about what works, and we will be sharing this with the sector. The activities require careful training and support to ensure this is a positive and empowering experience for those taking part and set within the wider national context about student wellbeing.
Universities must foster genuinely supportive environments which empower those with lived experience to contribute to choices around service and provision delivery, and input into health strategies at the university. This should not be about putting the onus of campaigning for adequate support on those that are experiencing mental health difficulties, but rather, providing ample and clear opportunity for all students to contribute.
Our full report about co-producing with students on strategy is launching later this year.
Today there have been a number of reports in the media about a research study looking at data on student deaths by suicide. We understand that it's not easy for any students, family members or members of the university community to read about these very difficult issues and we encourage anyone affected to look after yourself and reach out to others if required (please see links provided below).
At Student Minds we are working with a number of organisations to improve prevention, but we know there is a lot more to be done and won't stop until every university and health providers have implemented national evidence - based guidance. There is also more that we need to understand as a society in order to respond from an informed starting point, and we are eager to hear the findings from research being undertaken in a few universities in the UK.
We think it’s important to also note that there has been some debate between academics around the methodology and possible assumptions underlying the particular study being shared this week, and anticipate there will be further analysis and discussion in the future as more data becomes available.
We encourage sensitivity from anyone reporting on these issues in the meantime, remembering that we all have a responsibility to ensure we do not put other people at risk. Guidance on safe reporting is available on the Samaritans website.
Are you looking for support?
Research into student mental health suggests that broad support networks can help recovery from, and management of, mental health difficulties. Your wider support network might include friends and family, your GP, University counselling / wellbeing services.
Are you feeling actively suicidal?
If you are feeling like you want to die, please consider that many people who have attempted or come close to suicide look back with gratitude that they were not successful in acting on their intentions.
If you are feeling actively suicidal now: