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Review:
Students’ Mental Health Needs: Problems and Responses

Nicky Stanley, Jill Manthorpe

Jessica Kingsley Publishers (2002)

ISBN: 1853029831

Staff employed within higher and further education institutions may be interested to hear about a new publication which has emerged out of the 1996-1999 HEFCE-funded Student Mental Health Project at the University of Hull.

The publication is of relevance to all staff with a role to play in supporting students with mental health problems, from those in the traditional welfare roles, for example the counselling service, to those staff who may be approached by a student in distress during their day to day work, for example academic staff, administrative staff, library staff or reception staff.

Stanley and Manthorpe note that recent changes within HE have played a large part in influencing current student well-being. Widening participation has created a larger and more diverse student population and funding changes have resulted in greater financial hardship, both of which have potentially increased the stress levels of today's student. The mental health of staff has also been affected as a result of the move to the modular system and consequent increased pressures on resources and staff time.

The first part of the publication focuses heavily on the student perspective and experience of studying at university. The chapters in this section refer to support from the family and the impact on the student of changes in the relationship between family members when a child leaves home for university. Suicide is examined using written accounts from the parents of students who took their own lives whilst studying in higher education.

Findings from research carried out as part of the University of Leicester Student Psychological Health Project (1996-1999) are detailed in the second part of the book. This research, carried out by a large scale survey, aimed to establish the extent and nature of mental health problems amongst the student population and potential contributory factors.

External support services are discussed, specifically primary care. The publication looks into the gaps in support provided by Primary Care Services, the incidence of students with mental health needs approaching GPs as a source of support and the responses of GPs to such students. Communication between HE counselling services and the community mental health services is also examined and related issues such as confidentiality are considered. Details of the different available referral routes between the institution and external support services for example statutory and voluntary organisations are provided.

The latter half of the publication provides examples of effective responses to students with mental health needs, using examples from both a higher and further education institution. It also considers the value of self-help systems and materials in supporting students' mental health needs.

The publication takes the view that an institution-wide approach to students with mental health needs is needed.

Filed Under: Books

Last edited: 27 02 2009