Much has been said about the wide-ranging impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. What is happening, and what has already happened, will reshape our way of life for the foreseeable future. Students have been at the frontlines of this pandemic, stepping up to join the NHS before their time, leading community mutual aid initiatives, and campaigning for justice and equality as we respond to what’s happening around us.
Now, more than ever, student mental health must be supported, as should the mental health of all those in our university communities. However, resorting to previous ways of working, relying on knowledge of life pre-Covid, would limit the efficacy of our response. So, as a charity, we’ve transitioned to a new way of working to enable us to support you - students, sector staff, and our supporters - best, and adapt to our new reality together.
What is Student Minds doing to respond to Covid-19?
In order to support the university community best, we first want to develop a rich understanding of the unique challenges students and staff are facing. We are ready, formulating and implementing our new listening strategy to put your experiences at the forefront of our response. We have been preparing pulse surveys, analysing social media content, conducting thematic analysis, and setting up our own “horizon-scanning” functions to future-proof our work.
We are continuously developing our understanding of the experiences of students and staff alike and want to co-produce our interventions to ensure they are fit for purpose. This means working with students and staff at every stage of our content creation process. We want to develop resources, support and analysis which truly and accurately reflect the needs of everybody in our university communities.
As we shift gears to enact our new operational plan, we can focus our full attention on Covid-19, improving and protecting student mental health to the best of our ability. We have created a resource and already contributed to many productive conversations with government departments and key partners across the sector. We are keen to see this work continue in a collaborative effort to protect and support student mental health.
We want to pay tribute to the students and staff showing incredible resourcefulness and resilience in these difficult times. Support staff and other HE professionals across the UK have been working incredibly hard to ensure the negative impacts of the pandemic on student mental health are minimal.
We have been inspired by the numerous students who have commenced work for the NHS early to help out during the pandemic. We will continue to work to understand their specific experiences and to champion their mental health and wellbeing, not only now, but into the future.
Many Students’ Unions have been quick to innovate and adapt, establishing online communities, organising social opportunities, and creating student-led support content, to respond to the needs of their communities. We also want to acknowledge the numerous student campaigners and activists across the country who have organically contributed to wider community initiatives and mutual aid groups.
How you can get involved?
You can support our listening work to improve our understanding of how the pandemic is impacting you. We are running short surveys for students and sector staff to learn about how you are experiencing the pandemic, understanding what’s helping, what isn’t, and what needs to be done in the short, medium, and long-term. Our Clinical Advisory Group has provided input into this process to ensure this work is rigorous and fit-for-purpose. Share your experiences today!
If you are a researcher who is investigating the impact of Covid-19 on higher education, university students, or university mental health, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. At Student Minds we want to ensure our work is built on a strong foundation of evidence, so we would love to hear about what you’re doing and talk about ways in which we may be able to work together. Our research partners SMaRteN are also conducting their own vital research into the impacts of Covid-19.
Finally, as a small charity, we like many others have been financially impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. If you are able and willing to give, even the smallest donation helps us to keep doing our vital work. There’s plenty of ways you can fundraise for Student Minds too; check out our digital fundraising for inspiration.
Tackling inequality in the era of Covid-19
We understand we are living through difficult times, and that this pandemic is not impacting each person equally. Throughout our work, we will endeavour to capture and understand the different experiences of students and staff from a wide range of backgrounds. Our commitment to addressing health inequalities remains at the heart of what we do. Your voice matters, and through supporting our work, you’re helping us to support those who need us most.
We can do this together
At Student Minds, we believe it is important to hold onto optimism and hope. While we are experiencing a paradigm shift, restructuring our society and the higher education sector, we have tremendous power which is best harnessed when we work together.
We will continue to support good mental health for everybody in the higher education community, with co-production, equality and courage at our core.
We hope you stay safe, take care, and be kind to yourself, as we work on this together.