Mental Heath Awareness Week: University of Sussex launches student mental health survey

The SITUATE survey asks UK undergraduates about their educational experiences, mental health, social life and the effect of Covid-19

Researchers at the University of Sussex have launched a new student mental health survey to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May).

The new project is called SITUATE (Students in Transition at University: Aiming to Enhance Mental and Social Health and Wellbeing). It has been produced with the support of the Mental Health Foundation and is part of a project funded by the Office for Students’ (OfS) Challenge Competition which invited providers to propose ways of improving mental health outcomes for students.

The survey aims to explore students’ mental and social health and wellbeing as they move into and through university, assessing the impact of Covid-19 and helping to shape university mental health services

Written by the University of Sussex’s Professor Jeremy Niven in the School of Life Sciences, Professor Robin Banerjee and Dr Matthew Easterbrook from the School of Psychology and Dr Clio Berry from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, the wide-ranging and anonymous online survey asks undergraduates a series of questions about their sleep, energy levels and appetite as well as about their feelings, who they would turn to for emotional support, their experiences of university, how they envisage life after graduation, and the impact of Covid-19 upon their mental health.

With coronavirus adding a whole new level of stress and anxiety, we want to understand the impacts of the pandemic on our students to find the best way for universities to help them

“This is an opportunity to hear directly from students across the UK about the problems they face – and how they can be better supported,” said Professor Jeremy Niven.

“The proportion of full-time UK undergraduate students reporting mental health concerns when they enter higher education has more than doubled over the last five years.

“And with coronavirus adding a whole new level of stress and anxiety, we want to understand the impacts of the pandemic on our students to find the best way for universities to help them – not just at Sussex, but nationwide.”

At the end of April, the OfS published a briefing note on supporting student mental health during the pandemic.

It addresses the “complex challenges and considerations for supporting the wellbeing of the general student population, with specific consideration needed to understand the needs of students most vulnerable to the impact of the pandemic – including those with a declared mental health condition.”

Previous Ofs reports, the found that full-time students with a declared mental health condition are more likely to drop out and less likely to achieve a first or 2:1 degree, or secure good jobs after graduation.

The first wave of the student mental health survey will be open until midnight on 16 June 2020. Participants will also be asked to take part in the same survey at later dates, to track changes in their mental state. Participants will be entered into prize draws and given the chance to win up to £350.


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