Mental Health is the Responsibility of the Whole Institution
Students and academics at York St John University attended a challenging guest lecture on tackling the stigma around mental health issues in higher education this week.
Dr Andrew Reeves, a fellow and chair of The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, explained how to promote positive change around the complex subject, and provided insight into the increased caseloads for specialists on campus.
Reflecting on the changes over the last 20 years in mental health provision in universities, and highlighting the positive steps that need to be taken by institutions, Dr Reeves advised York St John University members on how to ensure that mental health issues can be talked about with confidence.
Speaking at the De Grey Court on campus on Tuesday, he said:
“There are real transitional issues for students at universities. Student mental health is a significant concern. All staff in an institution have a role to play in student mental health, not just specialists. And one size doesn’t fit all. Universities have to cater for a mix of complex needs. The student has to be at the centre and the focus. Universities have to grapple with societal pressures and everyday ‘norms’ faced by students.”
Speaking on the role of the specialist mental health services for students, he said: “There are massive implications for stripping away specialist mental health services at university to save money. If we continue in the trend of closing down specialist services, we may well see an increase of crisis mental health cases. Events like this at York St John University are key to taking positive steps institutionally. We can do something about this.”
This year, the university has hosted its annual series of public talks and events on a range of contemporary subjects that affect daily life as part of the Conversations that Matter initiative.
Nic Streatfield, Head of Student Services at York St John University, said: “Andrew is the former Editor of Counselling and Psychotherapy Research journal and has written extensively about counselling, including several highly praised books and chapters on working with risk. It was a privilege to get his expert insight into the subject, which he communicated brilliantly. It is the responsibility of the entire institution to ensure that our culture here is one that treats mental health with the same respect as physical health. University can be a time of change and challenge for most students. Emerging mental health distress is not uncommon during a student’s time at university and the demand for services is high. However, taking a whole institution approach to mental health – seeing that mental health is everyone’s responsibility – provides the best context for people to be supported.”
Find out more about the events in the 2018 Conversations that Matter series.