May 30, 2018 | by Nancy Hey

Higher education: improving wellbeing and mental health

We recently highlighted age differences in wellbeing in the UK. Research suggests that levels of mental illness and low wellbeing among 16-24 year olds, and students in higher education, in the UK are increasing, and are high relative to other sections of the population. As part of our aim to use evidence to improve wellbeing in the UK, we have begun work with Universities UK and the University of East Anglia on two research and implementation projects.

Mental health problems and low wellbeing are increasing and disproportionately high for 16-24 year olds, and university students, according to research.

Higher education: what works for wellbeing?

In partnership with Universities UK, on the new higher education section on our website we bring together:

  • existing evidence of who’s affected; where the gaps are; and what works
  • pioneer examples – staff from universities across the UK sharing new practice and approaches to improving wellbeing as we start to build the evidence base for 18-24 year olds.  
  • a simple way to keep updated with new developments.

Post Graduates: Project Courage

The Centre is part of a new two-year project with University of East Anglia to research and pilot innovative approaches to support the mental health and wellbeing of postgraduate research students. Working with our Work and Learning Evidence Programme researchers and other partners, Project Courage will look at how higher education institutions can support good mental health and wellbeing among postgraduate research students.

The project includes activities led by both students and staff.  It will have eight key areas of focus.

Student-led activity will concentrate on:

  1. Building research community culture across UEA’s four Faculties, Norwich Bioscience Institutes and the University of Suffolk
  2. Resilience training for students
  3. ‘Low commitment’ sports and fitness activity, including exercise and walk groups to support health and build community among staff and students
  4. Evaluating current online support programmes

Staff-led activity will focus on:

  1. Supporting staff who supervise postgraduate research, through improved training to recognise mental health issues
  2. Creating a tutor support network
  3. Developing a Health Impact Assessment to embed good mental health and wellbeing into everyday practices
  4. Research and advocacy: a review of mental health issues around postgraduate research to inform all the other activities in the project.

To find out more as these projects, and other research from the Centre, develops, sign up to our evidence alerts.

View all our evidence on education and learning

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