Student mental health toolkit
The Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Ken Skates AM, marked World Mental Health Day 2013 by launching a student mental health toolkit at the University of South Wales Students’ Union, Pontypridd.
As the national representative body for students, NUS Wales has been working with leading Welsh mental health and wellbeing charity Gofal to create the toolkit, which includes a 12-page information booklet for individual students and a series of briefings for students’ union officers and representatives.
The toolkit highlights that one in four people experience mental health problems in any given year and that this statistic could equate to one in four students in any lecture theatre, student bar and halls of residence. It recognises that going to college or university can be a challenging time in people’s lives, with new and different routines and pressures requiring students to balance lectures and coursework with employment, social activities or family and caring responsibilities.
The student information booklet includes information, myths and facts about mental health; provides a series of ‘talking tips’ to help and encourage students to talk openly about mental health problems; and informs students about a range of national helplines and improvements to local primary mental health support services.
The students’ union officer briefing includes information about mental health issues; advice about supporting students with mental health problems; and campaign ideas for improving students support services and student mental health and wellbeing on campus.
The toolkit is being launched a year after the Welsh Government strategy Together for Mental Health, which calls for action across a range of sectors – including education – to improve mental health and wellbeing in Wales. Together for Mental Health recognises the challenges that face students in Wales and requires the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) to ensure that university tuition fee plans detail appropriate investment and provision of student support services.