Friday, 28 February 2020

Student Mental Health: What Are The Key Questions?

Michael writes about the importance of student voice in setting the mental health research agenda and how you can get involved.
- Michael Priestley

Which research questions still need answering to better understand and support student mental health and wellbeing at university? Have your say by March 15th 2020!

Throughout my time at university, I have kept encountering the same key questions: 

  • How do education policies and practices impact on student mental health and wellbeing? 
  • How does a high pressure and competitive environment of exams and assignments impact on student mental health? 
  • Could changes to learning and teaching styles, curriculum content, and assessment strategies promote better student mental health and wellbeing? 
  • And does better mental health and wellbeing enhance learning? 

Now, as a PhD student, these are my key questions that I grapple with in my own research. What are yours? What, from your experience of university, do you think are the key research questions that need to be answered to better understand and support improved student mental health? 

With rising concerns about student mental health at university, the SMaRteN national research network is leading the Key Questions project to call for students to set the student mental health research agenda on the issues important to them. They are asking us: If you had £100,000 to spend on student mental health research, what questions would you ask? 

SMaRteN will then use your questions to inform the allocation of future student mental health research funding. After all, without research that is attuned and relevant to the student experience, how can we really understand the key issues and make positive changes to the state of student mental health?

As experts by experience with first-hand knowledge of the specific challenges and demands of university life, we as students must be represented and empowered to lead the change in student mental health. The survey needs as many student voices as possible to ensure that the priorities represent the wider experiences, challenges, and priorities of the whole student population. From undergraduate to postgraduate, international to home student, studying education to engineering – we all have mental health and better mental health is better for all of us, so make sure your voice is heard. Whether it’s a question around prevalence, risks, support, transitions, causes, intersectionality, high risk groups, interventions or anything else, this is your chance to use your voice to raise the issues that are important to you in future mental health research and practice. 

Taking part is easy! You can submit your questions to the Key Questions survey to ensure that your voice, your experience, and your needs are included in the research that will shape the changes to student mental healthcare. This is our chance to change the state of student mental health by informing future research and evidence-based policy. This is our chance to make a difference. Get involved and tell a friend. 

For more information on how you can get involved to change the state of student mental health, click here


I’m Michael and I’m the editor of the Student Minds Blog. I am a PhD student at Durham University studying student mental health and wellbeing. I write for Student Minds to share my own experiences of mental health difficulties and to advocate for change to improve the state of student mental health.  

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