Student Minds responds to calls for more legislation and regulation concerning student mental health
Content warning: This article mentions difficult subject matter. Signposting to further support can be found at the end of this piece.
We are aware that over the last few months a number of campaigns* have called for more legal duties and regulation on universities regarding student mental health, and specifically in relation to the loss of life by suicide.
We recognise that these conversations are extremely difficult. Every student's death is a devastating tragedy that has an unimaginable and profound impact on families, friends and the whole community.
At Student Minds we are committed to tackling student ill-health and preventing deaths by suicide. We acknowledge the complexity of addressing deaths by suicide and that there are no quick or simple solutions, whilst also believing there is much our communities can do.
We believe that a holistic, whole-university approach to mental health**, is vital in understanding how we can best support students’ wellbeing and prevent deaths by suicide. In part, we believe the answer will lie in sustained joined-up working across the Higher Education sector, working with the NHS, working with national policy makers and campaigners, and by building on research and evidence to strengthen and improve practice.
Due to our unique role in assessing universities' approaches, and because we are following the outcomes of several ongoing and significant projects and proceedings, we will not be responding to specific campaign asks at this time. Based on our research however, we acknowledge that there is value, for students and staff, in providing more clarity around roles, responsibilities and their related boundaries - and we do support the case for further discourse across the sector to clarify this.
We have engaged in consultation with students, staff, clinicians and parents and we may publish on the detail of these issues in the coming months.We would welcome receiving further evidence and insights around the role of regulation and how the risks of any legal changes could be mitigated (please email email@example.com if you would like to share information with our team).
We would like to take the opportunity to share with our networks existing resources universities may draw upon to improve student mental health and create healthy university communities, as well as routes to further support if you or someone you know has been impacted by these experiences.
* Campaign examples include; https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/627329, https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/622847
** A whole-university approach must include both adequately resourced, effective and accessible mental health services and proactive interventions. It must provide an environment and culture that reduces poor mental health, as well as supporting good mental health, and facilitating staff and students to develop insight, understanding and skills to manage and maintain their own wellbeing.
Resources and guidance for Higher Education professionals
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 themselves 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 did not act on their intentions. If you are feeling actively suicidal now: