Student mental health and wellbeing – why does it matter?

While universities can do much to support their students by developing policies and practices, students can also benefit from the support of charities. In this blog Grace Anderson outlines what Student Mind offers.

Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity.

We empower students and members of the university community to develop the knowledge, confidence and skills to look after their own mental health, support others and create change.

Why do we focus on student mental health?

Nearly 50% of young people enter Higher Education. For many, university is the first time living independently away from established networks of family support. In adjusting to the student lifestyle, many students struggle to maintain healthy day-to-day routines and experience academic, social and financial pressures. Research has found that roughly a third of students report psychological distress (Bewick, 2008) with the median age of students overlapping the peak age of onset, with 75% of all mental health difficulties developing by mid-20s (RCPsych, 2011).

Anxiety and depression are the most commonly experienced mental illness in the student population, but students also experience eating disorders, self-harm, OCD, bipolar disorder, psychosis and personality disorders. Sadly, in recent years there has been an increase in the number of student deaths by suicide (IPPR, 2017). We believe it doesn’t need to be like this. Effective early-intervention, preventative approaches and ongoing support for both those with and those supporting someone with mental health difficulties would improve the futures of millions of young people. We are working to transform the state of student mental health so that all in higher education can thrive.

What does Student Minds do?

Student Minds works with students, service users, professionals and academics to develop new and innovative ways to improve the mental health of students. The student voice is essential, we ensure that young people have agency, whilst empowering the community around them to have the health literacy and tools to respond.

The work we do:

  • Deliver training, support and supervision, empowering student facilitators to run peer support programs for fellow students
  • Create and run research-driven national campaigns and share knowledge and resources to encourage students to take care of their own mental health and to improve mental health literacy across the university community
  • Coordinate a network of student campaigners to spread the message about student mental health on the ground
  • Run train the trainer programs equipping staff to run workshops to build mental health literacy on their campuses
  • Drive national change by developing research and policy recommendations, and sharing best practice as influenced by the student voice
  • You can find out more about the work we do here

“I found getting involved with Student Minds a big step in my mental health journey, I only wish I had known about their amazing resources when I was in my first year and not my last. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without the charity.” – Student Minds Volunteer

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How can you support student mental health?

University Mental Health Day is the biggest day for student mental health; the national campaign focuses efforts on promoting the mental health of people who live, work and study in higher education settings. We are encouraging all university and staff to get involved! You can join the community of campaigners on the 1st of March 2018 by running an event, using #UniMentalHealthDay on social media, fundraising for Student Minds or blogging about your experiences here.

Be part transforming the state of student mental health, by getting involved with Student Minds today!

Grace Anderson
Fundraising and Communications Manager at Student Minds