Student Minds to be the lead charity partner for a new national research network for student mental health
What is SMaRteN?
SMaRteN is a UKRI funded national research network, led by KCL, focusing on Student Mental Health in Higher Education. The network’s aim is to connect researchers, with a range of expertise, with key stakeholders across the Higher Education sector to improve our understanding of student mental health.
The Higher Education sector has recently seen increases in the levels of mental distress among the student population. In response, we are seeing a substantive push for programmes of change. For this change to be strategic and effective, it needs to be based on solid research and evidence. One of the key asks of the Universities UK #StepChange framework is for universities to use the internal data that they have at their university, to better assess the their population, and facilitate preventative and proactive responses.
The network aims to shift the focus away from responsive counselling and support services to use data to build an understanding of what institutional and social factors contribute to distress among the student population. Using data to support a whole university approach, we expect institutions to be able to reduce levels of distress so that fewer students feel they need to access professional services.
This network is an opportunity to further build the case for investing in transforming the mental health of our university communities. The network will engage researchers with expertise in areas ranging from education to anthropology, from arts and culture to bio-informatics, from psychology to economics. We will take a new look at both the individual and institutional factors that influence student mental health.
How are Student Minds involved?
Student Minds has always worked to ensure that our work Is evidence based and driven by research. This is why we are thrilled to be the lead charity partner in the SMaRteN research network. Our founder and Chair of Trustees, Dr. Nicola Byrom is leading the network.
As a member of the network’s Management Team, our Policy Manager, Rachel Piper will work with the network to ensure that student voice is meaningfully engaged throughout the process, through a Student Led Research Team. You can read more about the team, and find out how to apply here.
Student Minds’ CEO, Rosie Tressler, will be joining international experts, including Professor Stan Kutcher and Professor Daniel Eisenberg, and UK sector leaders from Universities UK and AMOSHEE, to provide advice to the network.
Researchers, practitioners and students can join the network by filling out a form on their website.
We welcome the launch of 'Suicide Safer Universities', Universities UK and Papyrus’ guidance for universities on preventing student suicides focused on improving understanding, prevention and responses to the tragic circumstances of suicide. This guide, which will be sent to all university leaders, is a helpful step to ensure practice is shared across the sector.
At Student Minds, we also call for further research and evidence in this area and will be supporting the dissemination of a number of studies in the coming years. There have been recent debates about degree to which a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult should be informed about a student in crisis, at risk, having disclosed a mental health difficulty or using services. We would recommend that responses to this debate are at all times both informed by available evidence and co-produced with students. Across universities and the NHS we must invest in ensuring the early identification and treatment of mental health disorders, as too many people still lose their lives when waiting for treatment. We also recognise that the media has a big role to play to ensure that all reporting is safe and responsible and adheres to Samaritans guidelines in order to not create harm for others.
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).
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: