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Student Mental Health Is UK Universities’ Biggest Driver of Change

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UK university leaders have revealed that better supporting student mental health and wellbeing was the biggest driver of change for universities, in new research by the learning and engagement platform Kortext.

The study, in association with higher education policy analysts Wonkhe, targeted senior leaders from the UK’s 165 universities, with more than 80% of respondents stating that mental health and wellbeing was an essential strategic focus for their university in 2022.

To identify the source of student anxieties, the study also asked university leaders to highlight the most significant concerns facing students. 

Nearly two thirds (63.6%) of leaders reported students worrying about their own academic performance, making it the most common concern impacting student wellbeing. This was followed by students worried about their chances of securing graduate-level employment, and students anxious about their current financial circumstances.

To address these student anxieties, Kortext launched its Take a Moment – with Dr Dom content series, alongside mental health charity Student Minds’ Clinical Advisor, Dr Dom Thompson.

Take a Moment – with Dr Dom sees the UK’s most experienced student mental health doctor give warm expert advice to any student struggling with the five biggest causes of student concerns, as revealed in the new study.

These are:

  • Concerns about their own academic performance. (63.3%)
  • Concerns about their chances of securing graduate-level employment. (51.5%)
  • Concerns about their financial circumstances. (50%)
  • Concerns about being too time-poor for their studies. (43.9%)
  • Concerns about ongoing cultural debates. (24.2%)

Dr Dom said: “The results of the university leader study show that university leaders are responding appropriately and positively to urgent student mental health needs. This is progress, but student mental health is at a post-WW2 low, and this constructive intention must now be converted to action, and backed by significant investment in wellbeing services.

“In my twenty years of student mental health clinical work, I have seen how lack of funding can lead to devastating impacts for students. Recently I have seen how cuts to student support services have had a negative impact on both staff and student welfare. I’ve also seen how even well funded university mental health programmes can benefit from reviewing their services, trying new approaches and being open to closer working with the NHS and other university teams. That’s why working in partnership can make such a positive difference for universities seeking to rapidly improve their wellbeing support to students.”

On the Take a Moment series, Dr Dom said:

“Much of the time students experiencing initial anxiety about a specific concern can feel calmed and in control of their emotions through wellbeing self care methods, before it escalates into a more significant mental health issue. However, students are more time-pressed than ever, and often feel they don’t have time to follow mindfulness and self care practices, like meditation. 

“That’s why the Take A Moment series provides students with the most important words they need to hear, about the specific concern they are worried about, in just two minutes. Then they can regain control of their emotions, and make more informed decisions about how they plan to solve their issue.”

The Take A Moment – with Dr Dom series is available at kortext.com/takeamoment.

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