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Alliance needed on student mental health

A group of UK universities, students, charities and student accommodation provider Campus Living Villages have called on the higher education sector to increase collaboration in order to address high levels of poor mental health among students.

The call for greater collaboration was made at a roundtable event response to a report which revealed two in five students say they have poor mental health. Photo: Campus Living Villages

36% of international students report experiencing poor mental health

The call was made at a roundtable event response to a Campus Living Villages report Mental Health: Bridging the Gap, which revealed two in five students say they have poor mental health.

Just over a quarter (28%) of students surveyed said they didn’t know if their university provides information about stress and mental health, while almost half (48%) are unaware if their halls of residence provide this information.

“We know from speaking to our international student residents that many of them come from cultures where mental health is not spoken about openly”

Included within the overall sample were 153 international students, whose results reflected the overall averages:

  • 36% report experiencing poor mental health
  • 26% don’t know if their university provides information about stress and mental health
  • 46% don’t know if their halls of residence provide this information.

University Partnerships director at Campus Living Villages, Nadine Lee said it’s clear from the research that messages about mental health services are not reaching all students who need them.

“We know that universities and accommodation providers are working hard to support students struggling with poor mental health, but this has prompted us to ask ourselves what more could be done to help students access to support and break through the noise,” she said.

Lee told The PIE News that the unique challenges international students are likely to face are an important additional factor to consider.

“While all students, whether international or domestic, may be moving away from established support networks for the first time, those [students] changing country rather than just county could feel even more isolated,” she said.

“We know from speaking to our international student residents that many of them come from cultures where mental health is not spoken about openly, and in which seeking help is seen as weakness.

“This can make it very difficult for them to identify potential issues and feel confident seeking help.”

Lee added that it is important that universities and accommodation providers recognise and respond to the specific issues impacting international students when it comes to mental health.

“Initiatives should be tailored to the cultural make-up of each accommodation block. But simple steps such as providing activities to help them get settled in before Freshers’ Week, organising events during holidays when other students may have returned home, and highlighting members of staff who speak their language, can all make a huge difference.”

To find out more about mental health support services and legislation, ReThink Mental Illness offer information is here

If you need to talk to someone, an international list of helplines can be found here

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