On the 6th and 7th March, MES Research & Communities team (Elouise, Joanna, Elizabeth and Demetri) are running events on behalf of NHS Camden CCG. The events form part of the U’n’I Health and Wellbeing campaign which is led by NHS Camden CCG.
U’n’I Health and Wellbeing campaign is in partnership with UCL, UAL, University of London and Birkbeck University, as well as local NHS services and charities, to better support students access and understanding of health and care services. The campaign offers information on mental health, physical health, sexual health, GP registration, support and charity and voluntary services available for students.
The events have been designed in collaboration with universities, and students can expect to see a range of activities including Laughter Yoga, a Mindfulness taster session, a performance from UAL cheerleading squad, Art Therapy, healthy cookery demonstrations, smoothie bikes, and onsite health checks. We also have an expert panel discussion addressing the question, ‘What are the building blocks to a healthy university population?’. There is also an opportunity to participate in a workshop with iCope ‘An introduction to mental health services whilst at university’.
But why run a campaign for students in higher education?
In the summer of 2018 MES and NHS Camden CCG hosted a Welcome Afternoon Tea for members of the Camden Citizens’ Panel. Panel members discussed various topics but mental health amongst young people was mentioned time and time again. Alongside first hand experiences of the panel members there is evidence that mental health amongst students in university is a growing issue. The idea that a campaign focused on students in higher education began to grow.
This extract from an article written by Ellen Hoggard from the Happiful magazine states:
‘In 2014/15, 7,375 students declared arriving to university in poor mental health. While figures show an increase each year since then, the 2017/18 academic year saw a total of 12,773.’ 1
Worryingly, statistics from the ONS indicate that the rate of university student suicides has risen over the last 10 years.2
Work is already being done by charities such as Student Minds, which carried out the ‘Grand Challenges in Student Mental Health’ study. The research takes a deep look at the issues and factors influencing poor mental health amongst the student population. They state:
‘Our vision is for students to be at the centre of all interventions to improve student mental health. We want students to take action to foster an environment where everyone has the confidence to talk and listen to each other, the skills to support one another and the knowledge to look after their own mental health.’3
For some young people, starting university may be the first time that they have had to take care of their own health away from the family home. Registering with a GP may not have been something they have done before independently. An article written by the Education Policy Institute suggests:
‘The beginning of university is a time of transition for students, which can also be a barrier to them receiving mental health treatment. They often move away from home and leave behind their regular GP and support system, making it more difficult to receive consistent and timely care. University mental health advisors and other healthcare professionals reported that the biggest challenge facing student mental health is that ‘the NHS is not set up to support students as they move between home and university.’ Students are currently unable to register with two GPs. If they are already in contact with mental health services before starting at university, it may take a while for the student’s notes and treatment plans to be transferred to a practice closer to where they study. In addition, when they return home, especially for longer periods of time over the summer, their notes and treatment plans are often inaccessible, raising significant issues for continuity of care’. 4
Registering with a GP can seem daunting if you’re a student arriving from overseas to study in the UK. UCL have published useful guidance on their website for students in this situation:
‘We strongly recommend that you register with a GP within the first few weeks of arriving in the UK. This will make sure your GP can process your registration and provide you with an NHS number in good time. You need to have an NHS number to have hospital treatment or if you need to be referred to a specialist clinician.’5
Information online from NHS England shows that GP services can be available online for students.
We would like to thank the following organisations for their contribution to and support of the U’n’I Health & Wellbeing campaign:
The NHS image above illustrates where to access the right services if in need. For further information, visit: www.camdenccg.nhs.uk/unihealth
- Birkbeck University
- University of London
- Thrive LDN
- The Hive Camden
- Anthony Nolan
- Turning Point
- Camden Council
- Metropolitan Police
- Community Chef
- Ridgmount Practice
- Art Therapists Anna Giannotti, Simrit Singh and Joanne King
- Camden Specialist Drug Service, Camden Alcohol Assertive Outreach Team and Better Lives (Islington)
- UCL Integrated Camden Alcohol Service
Follow the online discussion: @Health4uni & #Health4uni
Blog by Elouise Smith
- Office of National Statistics, 2018, ‘Estimating Suicide Among Higher Education Students, England and Wales’, https://www.ons.gov.uk/releases/estimatingsuicideamonghighereducationstudentsenglandandwales
- Jardelle Johnson Research Intern at the Education Policy Institute https://epi.org.uk/publications-and-research/prevalence-of-mental-health-issues-within-the-student-aged-population/