#Me responds to the need for better mental health care at universities
1 June 2019
As mental health comes more and more into the public ether and the stigma lifts, statistics and anecdotal evidence is becoming more prevalent, revealing the issues many sectors are facing regarding mental health.
One such sector is universities, who are under pressure to improve their welfare resource in order to support struggling students.
A study in 2016 showed that more than a quarter of students (27%) struggle with mental health problems whilst at university, with depression and anxiety being the highest reported issues. The report goes on to say that
“Anxiety and stress are commonplace among students”, and, “Perhaps unsurprisingly, study is the primary cause of stress among students. Seven in ten (71%) say that work from university is one of their main sources of stress. The next biggest concern for students is finding a job after university (39%), followed by their family (35%).”
Even away from the statistics and reports, it is difficult to ignore the evidence that students can suffer greatly with mental health and that there might not be sufficient services to help.
A recent article published by the Manchester Evening News told the story of Gus Lloyd, a student at Manchester University who sadly took his own life. His suicide note questioned “why University of Manchester staff hadn't done more to help him even though they knew about his mental health struggles”. What’s more distressing, Gus’s is “one of 17 potential suicides of the university's students in the last three years” demonstrating just how severe the problem is.
#Me offers to help universities provide initial mental health support for students who might be struggling with the transition into university life. #Me Meetings, weekly meetings led by volunteer facilitators, are what founder, Megan Dreyer, calls “the middle ground between a cup of coffee with a friend and formal counselling which can often be inaccessible”.
Students can sign up to a 12-week course that takes them through various aspects of mental health, looking at common issues and implementing coping strategies to help. Participants receive a logbook and ongoing support during the ups and downs of University life.
The initiative has already launched in Loughborough, where a number of 12-week courses have taken place. 15 students volunteered to facilitate these meetings and received training from founder, Megan, before the courses began.
Megan said: “We received a fantastic uptake at Loughborough University and the feedback from the students, who both facilitated and participated in the #Me Meetings, really confirmed to me that we are providing a unique and helpful service.”
“During my time at university I spent a year as Wellbeing Officer for the University hockey team, and it was then, as I supported a number of our girls through difficult times, that I realised there was a need for something to bring these people together, and that by creating a space where students can be open about their feelings, they might be able to work through them and know they are valued and supported.”
#Me hopes to launch in more universities across the UK, training facilitators and helping to support students.
To find out more about the work of #Me in universities, visit our universities page or contact us directly.