World Mental Health Day is October 10 2017, and this year the focus set by the World Federation for Mental Health is mental health in the workplace.
At Cardiff University we are taking an institution wide approach to addressing mental health and wellbeing for our staff and students. As part of a Hefce funded project, Student Support and Wellbeing will be working jointly with the University of the West of England, the University of York, Universities UK and Student Minds to lead on ‘Strategic Approaches to Student Mental Health’.
Universities UK is calling on Universities to make mental health a strategic imperative as part of their #stepchange approach.
“Mental health matters. It affects our relationships and our wellbeing. It determines how we learn, and our productivity. The way we understand and approach mental health may be our greatest challenge.”
Our key focus at Cardiff will be:
- Changing the narrative: higher education requires solutions which enable it to move away from reactive, health based models of wellbeing provision to ones with a strategic fit with education and personal development.
- Embedding resilience within curricular, co-curricular and shifting the emphasis to taught skills, rather than service provision
- Relevance of Wellbeing Services: higher education needs a diversity of platforms through which it engages students in respect to their emotional health. Wellbeing/mental health is often viewed as something to prioritise when it deteriorates, rather than something that needs adequate attention to maintain in order to prevent a deterioration
- Meeting demand: Current wellbeing approaches, though not relevant to all, cannot meet the projected demand for service style provision. A strategic approach will allow for early intervention to manage the risk posed to students/staff who may be experiencing severe mental ill health.
Existing provision within Student Support and Wellbeing Services, divides its focus between reactive approaches (including one to one therapeutic appointments, workshops and groups) and proactive approaches. Our proactive approaches aim to:
- Upskill students and staff in recognising mental ill health
- Promote wellbeing throughout the institution
- Improve staff and student training opportunities
- Address key areas of mental health and wellbeing (suicidal ideation, mental distress, vulnerability, resilience, mental health stigma, experiences of violence and abuse)
Mental Health Prevalence
According to the Office for National Statistics (2001), 1 in 4 British adults experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any one year, and 1 in 6 experiences this at any given time. Mixed anxiety & depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, with almost 9% of people meeting criteria for diagnosis and between 8-12% of the population experience depression in any year. Depression is now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.
Workplace Mental Health
Mental health problems affect the way people think, feel and behave, and for many people who are studying or working, it will impact on their daily functioning (attendance, performance, concentration and attainment). Our mental health can also impact on the way we communicate with others and on our working relationships.
Many people who live with a mental health problem try to keep their feelings hidden because they are afraid of other people’s reactions. Cardiff University understands that in order to address mental health across the institution we have to acknowledge that staff and students are affected and that stigma can act as a barrier to openly talking about mental ill health and wellbeing. We have signed the Time to Change Pledge, which focuses on both staff and students addressing mental health stigma on campus.