Heads Up! Evaluating a positive mental health programme for students

1 Jan 2019

The number of students presenting at university mental health services is increasing. Funded by CWMT’s Ted Fort grant, Nicola Burford and Sheila Hardy set up a pilot project to equip them with skills to self-manage their mental health.

 

You can read brief details of the study below; if you would like a copy of the full article from which they are taken, published in ‘Practice Nursing’, please contact us.

 

Background

The past 20 years have seen the number of students attending university double in the UK. More than a quarter of students report having mental health problems, with the majority being anxiety and depression, and the number of suicides continues to increase. Students should be able to go to university and feel supported and well looked after, with access to timely, appropriate services and resources, and be empowered to develop skills to self‑care. The aim of this project was to equip students attending one university in England with the skills to self‑manage their mental health and seek further help when needed. 

 

Method

A programme of education called ‘Heads Up!’ was developed which included six sessions: practical preventative information; common problems for students part 1; common problems for students part 2; self‑help methods and local services and support; unhealthy behaviours; and Look After Your Mate, based on the Student Minds Campaign. The sessions were offered on a Thursday evening for up to 10 students and it was advertised through flyers, posters and Tweets. A place could be reserved through an online booking system. The sessions were evaluated using questionnaires. 

 

Results

The education programme was developed successfully. Advertising appeared to be effective as a total of 16 students signed up to one or more sessions. Between four and eight booked for five sessions, however, no one booked for the last session. Between one and three students attended the sessions. They scored the effectiveness of all five sessions as 4.3 out of a maximum score of 5. 

 

Next steps

Practice staff will get involved in open days and the Freshers’ Fair, and use social media as a way of making sure students are aware of the groups. The sessions will run again over the next academic year and will be amended according to the feedback received. They will be held on the university site and earlier in the academic year to improve attendance.

 

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