Timed to allow discussion of the Universities UK mental health framework for universities, launched in December 2016, and being held in the context of the news that the number of students to drop out of university with mental health problems has more than trebled in recent years, this event will look at how to ensure that mental health at university is sufficiently supported. With one in four students and up to half of university academics experiencing mental health problems, the event will consider whether current support services are adequate, how to improve them and raise awareness of their availability as well as what can be done to implement recommendations from the September HEPI report, The invisible problem? Improving students’ mental health.
Creating University-Wide Approaches to Supporting Mental Health
Sessions will look at how to overcome the taboo of mental health within universities, particularly through raising awareness via campaigns such as University Mental Health Day, as well as the potential for universities to start collecting data and carrying out self-evaluations of their mental health policies in order to identify areas for improvements. Delegates will consider how institutions can embed student support into all aspects of university, from the transition from school to university, teaching and learning to extra-curricular activities, and with few universities having a formalised mental health strategy, delegates will also consider what needs to be done to create a sector-wide approach to mental health that works for all institutions. The forum will also consider the role of the new Office for Students as well as assess the way forward to implement the recommendations from the forthcoming UUK mental health framework..
Ensuring High Quality Support For Students at all Times
Delegates will look at how to ensure that student support services are both simple to use and well signposted so that students are able to access the provision they need whenever necessary, as well as how to ensure the parity of support between term-times and holidays and consider the question of whether students should be able to be registered with a GP simultaneously at home and at university. Attendees will discuss how to improve relationships and collaborations with external providers of health and wellbeing services, including onsite and offsite GP surgeries, charities and the NHS. With increasing numbers of students enrolling at university putting continued strain on student services, sessions will also look at what more can be done to bridge the gaps in support, and in particular what role peer-to-peer support groups and online or phone services can play in providing advice and guidance to those who need it and whether these services can help remove unnecessary reluctance or embarrassment to seek help.
Supporting Students and Staff Alike
With many members of university staff choosing not to disclose or seek help for mental health for fear of being treated differently, sessions will also discuss what can be done to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for the university workforce. Delegates will discuss how the rise in the number of university students over recent years, coupled with rising pressures in an increasingly marketised HE sector, has impacted the number of staff members developing or disclosing they have mental health issues and what more can be done to support staff and help them achieve a better work-life balance. Attendees will also discuss what needs to be done to provide all university staff have sufficient training on mental health policy to not only help them identify and support students who may need it, but also to identify any symptoms in themselves and colleagues.