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.