Uniting in Support of University Mental Health

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”“Five times as many students told their uni they had a mental health problem than students who attended 10 years before“” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:30|text_align:right|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1551977888613{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ippr.org%2Fresearch%2Fpublications%2Fnot-by-degrees||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Social media is a strange entity. It is signposted as the cause for many mental health issues in young people, due to the domination over our communication channels it has; but then at the same time, it’s used to raise awareness about valuable issues. Today is one such conundrum. Twitter has announced to the world that it’s #UniMentalHealthDay and the entirety of the Twitter-verse has jumped at the chance to post, tweet and share their thoughts on the mental health crisis facing universities across the UK. Social media has become a forum to discuss negative mental health triggers, symptoms, causes and solutions – mildly ironic given just how many young people credit Instagram with body image issues, Facebook with loneliness and Twitter with bullying…[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”#UniMentalHealthDay” style=”flat” shape=”round” color=”warning” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Fsearch%3Fq%3D%2523UniMentalHealthDay%26src%3Dtypeahead_click||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Putting that juxtaposition of social media values aside, #UniMentalHealthDay gives us an occasion to reflect on the mental health situation facing young people, specifically those at university.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]University is a great time for so many people. You meet friends who you might end up keeping for the rest of your life. You’re pursuing a qualification in something you’re actually interested in. Perhaps you’ve even moved away from home and you’re getting your first taste of independent life. There are so many reasons why university can be a really positive time; however, looking at all these factors in another light can also highlight how easy it can be to develop mental health issues. There’s an immense of pressure on students to build a large circle of friends, to excel academically while also being a “big name on campus”; and all this is happening in a foreign environment with (at times) a weak support system in place. And let’s not forget the vast financial strain young people are put under with incredibly high tuition fees, restricted availability of financial aid and the ever-looming threat of debt straight after graduation. It’s ignorant to think that will have no impact on the levels of depression, anxiety and stress across the student community.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Reports indicate that 1 in 4 students at university experience a mental health problem and higher education institutions across the country are reporting a 94% increase in demand for counselling services. This data highlights the real crisis we’re facing in regard to caring for the mental health of our students.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Are you a ‘BNOC’?” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23848685″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]While it’s true that the stereotypical “childhood innocence” is ending much earlier than in previous generations, due to the exposure children and teenagers have to adult themes such as violence, substance abuse, sex and crime from films, tv shows, advertising material and video games. We’re now in a world where children become young adults much earlier and aspire to grow up much sooner. Teenagers are conditioned to want to look, act or be treated like social media “celebrities”; which affects the way they view the world at a crucial point in their psychological development. With all this happening as they grow up, by the time they reach university, students are so susceptible to the pressures of uni life. Fitting in and being recognised as a popular person within a community is seen as essential; so, when it’s harder than expected, the mental health stability of students suffers.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”First, 2.1, 2.2, Third…” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23848685″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]University students also face a real amount of pressure academically, as so much emphasis is placed on getting the top grades in “sensible” degrees which will help you secure a job afterwards in an employment market that is stacked against you. There are now so many more applicants for every role, so young people are pushed into feeling that anything other than a First is a let-down and will severely damage their future. This jeopardises their ability to grow as an individual outside of an educational spectrum and develop qualities which will serve them much better in the job market (confidence, teamwork, compassion, etc.).[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”What can we do? ” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23848685″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]It’s clear that something needs to be done to shake up the way students view the university experience. Student suicide rates have gone up 79% between 2009 and 2015, so the time to act is now. Firstly, we need to get the message across that university isn’t necessarily for everyone, and that is okay! We are all programmed differently, and hence we will succeed in different environments. For some, that means a different route than the standard university process. Perhaps it’s straight into work. Or maybe you discover an apprenticeship that you’re passionate about. At times, sometimes what needs to be reinforced as well is the fact that most of the time, a student will be more likely to succeed if they’re studying something they love, instead of what they believe they ‘should’ study. If you love a particular subject, you’ll work harder for the coursework, engross yourself in the wider reading and actively engage with the teaching. You’ll also be happier. As a result, the academic pressure (while not gone completely) will be more of an encouragement to thrive, than a threat of failure.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Another factor to consider is the support systems in place at universities. Students from poorer backgrounds need a better level of financial aid, and a reduction in the fear that they will be bankrupt the minute they leave university and have to start repaying loans. The standard university culture of drinking, partying and intense socialising is also in need of reform. We all have different interests, so let’s ensure they all get the necessary attention. Societies that foster more bespoke passions, artistic endeavours or highlight cultural differences need the same amount of funding and publicity on campus as the major sports teams (and typically the wildest partiers) get. Drug and substance misuse is rife among students, and peer pressure plays a large role in that; therefore, if we show new students that there are healthier ways to manage the new life changes they’re experiencing than just following the “crowd”, we might just be able to make them feel less alone.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Most importantly, mental health services. They need to be more accessible, more widely available and more openly discussed with students. At times it can feel like seeking help is embarrassing or admitting failure, so let’s make sure that all young students arriving on day 1 learn that it 100% is not. Not having the ‘perfect’ university experience is completely normal. No-one expects you to go through it stress free; but what we can do is make sure that we’re all here to help manage the stress and give you the appropriate channels to release it and process all negative emotions you’re having.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax=”content-moving” css=”.vc_custom_1551977683949{padding-top: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;background-color: #848685 !important;background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”While you’re here…” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:60|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1551977736044{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

One Stop Social has a whole range of helpful mental health resources to further your practice and to ensure the vulnerable people you work with get the best support . Here are just a few recommended tools and guides we find useful.

[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”How to increase your self-esteem booklet” style=”outline” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D4790%26title%3DHow%2520to%2520support%2520someone%2520who%2520feels%2520suicidal%2520booklet||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Self-Esteem Journal” style=”outline” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D4636%26title%3DSelf-Esteem%2520Journal||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Self Harm – Distraction Techniques & Alternative Coping Strategies” style=”outline” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D4412%26title%3DSelf%2520Harm%2520%25E2%2580%2593%2520Distraction%2520Techniques%2520%26%2520Alternative%2520Coping%2520Strategies||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Progress to Excellence: Nursing and Midwifery Opportunities

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_text_separator title=”Alternative route into nursing and midwifery careers”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]MORE doors to challenging and rewarding careers in healthcare are being opened with the expansion of a fast-track route for adults into further education.

The newly-launched Access to Higher Education (HE) Nursing and Midwifery course by Progress to Excellence Ltd offers an alternative route to training for those aged 19-plus who want a career in these particular fields but didn’t have the right qualifications to access the courses at university.

The course adds to the Progress to Excellence Ltd growing portfolio of qualifications in health and social care.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Damian Burdin, Chief Executive at Progress to Excellence Ltd, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer a selection of Access to HE qualifications which give individuals the opportunity to follow their dreams of training to become the likes of a nurse or midwife, FE teacher or health service manager.

“Just because someone didn’t get the exam grades at school that they needed to go to university doesn’t mean they can’t get there.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Damian also pointed out that, importantly, the Access to HE Diploma had been highlighted by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), the UK’s quality body for higher education, as a means of promoting social mobility.

He said: “This qualification has been proven to provide a route for adults from disadvantaged backgrounds into higher education as well as becoming a pathway to enhance UK productivity by helping prepare people for employment when they graduate. This has been especially so in sectors with skills shortages.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Access to HE courses also remove another common obstacle facing many students – that of costs – as they are funded via an Adult Learner Loan which is wiped off if the student progresses on to, and achieves, their qualification at university. Household income isn’t taken into account when applying for an Adult Learner Loan, there’s no credit check and no upper age limit.

Last year, 24,895 students with an Access to HE Diploma started a degree or other higher education programme in England and Wales – up from 24,180 the previous year.

QAA statistics show that 87 per cent of students with an Access to HE Diploma were aged 21 or over, compared with 34 per cent of students with other qualifications.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Damian added: “The Access to HE courses all require a high level of commitment from students as the course is designed to bridge the gap and get them ready for university. “However a big advantage of these courses is their delivery model as they are all delivered online, meaning studies can be completed at times to suit every individual and to fit in with work and family life.”

Progress to Excellence Ltd is offering the following Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma courses:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Access to HE – Health and Social Care

Entry requirements to study are a GCSE 4/D or above in English and maths.

This route is ideal if looking to gain a job in roles such as community worker, further education teacher, health promotion specialist, health service manager or as an adult nurse.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Access to HE – Nursing and Midwifery

Entry requirements to study are five GCSEs including GCSE Science, English and Maths at grade C (4) or above.

This route is suitable for those looking to move into a midwife or nursing role.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

A Guide to Starting University (From Someone Who’s Finished)

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Starting university can be a daunting prospect. Living independently without mum and dad, building new friendships, remembering to eat and sleep, it’s a total mine field. With more and more young people reporting mental health issues like anxiety or depression, it’s clear students don’t always adapt to starting university in the right way. So, here’s a short guide to help you kick start the beginning of the rest of your life. (With a couple of gritty truths chucked in for good measure.)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Living away from mum and dad.

This is never going to be easy. It may feel like a 24 hour party and you’re completely invincible, but many people will feel some sort of home sickness. Hell, I still felt it during my third year. Home sickness will affect everyone slightly differently. Some people lock themselves away for hours or days at a time. Some people become depressed, paranoid or irritable. Some people just cry at a moment’s notice. However it may affect you, it’s perfectly okay to ask for help. I honestly cannot emphasise this enough. University is about being out of your comfort zone, and it’s pretty much the same for everyone. Maybe pack a few small tokens from home to keep you feeling connected to your mum and dad or have weekly skype sessions with your family so that you can see the dog. It’s okay to miss home and it’s okay to do something about it.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Making friends.

Remember, university is a shared experience. No one really knows what they’re doing, but everything will go much smoother if you have friends on your side. Try not to make sure you’re not accidentally alienating people early on (no-one actually likes the ‘phantom flatmate’ who never leaves their room).  Give them a chance to get to know you before any judgements are made. Especially in halls. You have to live with them for at least a year, so you’re going to see a lot of them. Including in embarrassing or compromising situations. But then again, they might find you like that too. Either way, it’s easier if you get along with the people you have to interact with on a daily basis.

It might be worth organising a form of meet and greet to get to know your flat mates in the first few weeks of term, after the rush of Freshers Week. Here are some suggestions from someone who’s survived all the awkward “Hi, my name is…” before:

  • House meetings
  • Group cooking
  • Host a Party
  • House night on the town
  • Movie night/Game night

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Course mates.

These will be some of the most useful people to know on campus. Especially on courses with small numbers of students. These will be the people you spend most of your time on campus with. Whether you’re in a lecture or seminar, in the library, or having a pint at the students union, they’ll be at the centre of your university life. You will also find at some point on your course you will have to participate in a group project, which, let’s be honest, no one wants to do, but will be much more bearable if you’re friendly with the people you’re with. Don’t be the pretentious one who thinks they know more than every other student, but also don’t rebel against engaging with your course. You’re all there because you like the same subjects, so it’s a level playing field.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Societies and sports teams.

Honestly, join one. Something that will get you out of the house and socialise. Whether you’re a chess champion or a rugby protégé (or both, we’re not judging), your university has something for everyone. It will give you new skills and friendships that will last you a life time. You may even end up in competition with other universities, giving you the chance to travel and experience even more. Take the leap of faith out of your comfort zone and you’ll thank me for it.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Nights out.

You’re independent now, so no one can make decisions for you. You want to go drinking? Fine. Want to do it on a Tuesday, even though you know you should probably go to that 9am lecture on Wednesday? By all means. But know your limits. Forget everything you knew about drinking before you started, because university is a different ball game. The game has changed. And everyone has a different set of rules. So find yours. It may take a few weeks into term, but you will quickly learn what you can and can’t drink, how much you can tolerate, and how much it will affect your behaviour. Another beautiful fact to remember? You don’t actually have to drink if you don’t want to. Starting university can make you feel like you have to be just like everyone else, but I’m here to tell you, you don’t. Be fun on a night out and that’s all your friends are fussed about.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]And finally, actual work.

Whilst university is a truly amazing experience, you do actually have to do some work. This may take the form of essays, research, practical classes in labs etc. Take it seriously but enjoy your down time.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Essentially, university is about learning, experiencing new things and finding yourself. And the start of it can be a scary time. But that is totally normal, and you are not different, weird or doing uni wrong if you get nervous, homesick or sad. The most important thing is to find a healthy balance between work and play. Apart from that, we’re all just making it up as we go![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]By Fraser Wilson, Salford University Graduate. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]