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Student unions take part in UK's biggest mental health study

Twelve university student unions representing more than 185,000 students are taking part in a ground-breaking study into student mental health

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | August 13, 2017 | Students

Run by higher education research specialist Alterline and supported by the National Union of Students (NUS), the study aims to:

  • Scope the prevalence and range of mental health issues amongst the student population
  • Explore the impact of mental health issues on students’ lives, both personal and academic
  • Identify if there are institutional or personal factors that put some more at risk than others
  • Understand what support students are currently receiving and what’s missing
  • Inform further research and strategy.

At the core of the study will be a large-scale quantitative survey across all participating unions. This will be supported by qualitative work, including personal diaries, depth one-to-one interviews and focus groups, to provide a rich and robust evidence base. The study will take place this Autumn, with the final report expected to be published early 2018.

Alterline, which specialises in student insight, launched the new study after mental health emerged as a top priority for students in a recent project.  

Issuing a call to action for the sector, 25% of over 17,000 students across eighteen institutions, said mental health support should be one of the top three things which students’ unions should be campaigning on.  

We want this new project to move the conversation from top-level awareness-raising towards a far deeper understanding of the issues involved from a student perspective, and to provide clear pointers for co-ordinated action  

Ben Hickman, Research Director at Alterline, said: “The issue of student mental health has become impossible to ignore, it’s a consistent theme in our work with higher education institutes and student unions. We want this new project to move the conversation from top-level awareness-raising towards a far deeper understanding of the issues involved from a student perspective, and to provide clear pointers for co-ordinated action.”  

NUS Chief Executive Officer, Simon Blake says: “Students' unions have an important role to play promoting positive mental health, and signposting their members to specialist support. This collaborative research will build on what we already know nationally and build an evidence base for participating unions about context specific issues, concerns and potential interventions.” 

Twelve student unions are currently signed up to the ‘Being well, doing well’ study. These are:

  • Aston Students' Union
  • University of Staffordshire Students' Union
  • University of Lincoln Students' Union
  • Nottingham Trent Students' Union
  • University of Bolton Students' Union
  • Liverpool Students' Union
  • University of Bath students' union
  • Bristol Students' Union
  • University of Northampton Students' Union
  • Robert Gordon University Students' Union
  • University of Chichester Students' Union
  • University of Salford Students' Union 

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