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Advancing equality and diversity in universities and colleges


Home Guidance and resources Creating an inclusive environment Providing support Staff and students experiencing mental health difficulties

Staff and students experiencing mental health difficulties

National statistics indicate that one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.

However, few staff and students have disclosed a ‘mental health condition’ to their HEI or college. This under-reporting may be an issue for HEIs and colleges as:

  • people may not be getting support they may be require
  • universities may not meet their legal obligations under the Equality Act.
  • services may be underresourced

Disclosure and institutional support

Understanding adjustments: supporting staff and students who are experiencing mental health difficulties outlines a number of practical measures that HEIs can make to increase opportunities for disclosure and provide targeted and anticipatory support. This includes recommendations for academics and line managers, who were the main people spoken to about receiving support.

ECU also conducted some research in FE colleges in Scotland to look at the reasons for staff and learner disclosure, the support they were receiving, and what they would recommend colleges do to provide an inclusive environment.

The Universities Mental Health Advisers Network (UMHAN) is a network of mental health specialists working in higher and further education, and provide guidance on mental health provision and promotion.

Peer-to-peer

ECU’s research has found that many staff and students speak to their fellow students or work colleagues about experiencing mental health difficulties, and when they do students or colleagues were generally supportive or very supportive.

Organisations such as Student Minds provide training in providing peer support campaigns at HEIs.