Taking Care of Mental Health
Through support of The Hallam Fund a new Residential Wellbeing Mentoring programme has been launched which is committed to improving student wellbeing and ultimately reducing the number of students forced to withdraw from university.
While most students who come to Hallam transition well into university life; those who do experience difficulties have access to a number of support services provided by the University.
However, the recent increase in mental health cases has overwhelmed university wellbeing services; waiting lists are long, and, on occasion, students cannot access crucial support when they are dealing with problems. This, often in combination with other factors, leads to a small percentage of students withdrawing from university.
Official figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) show that the number of students to drop out of university with mental health problems has more than trebled in recent years. As a result, the University is treating student mental health as a priority.
Ahead of welcome week, eight student mentors were recruited and trained in how to deliver basic counselling, including mental health awareness, how to deal with culture shock, drug and alcohol awareness and resilience.
Each mentor works with a group of 15 - 20 first year students who are at risk of withdrawal who are pro-actively supported through the academic year through a combination of one-to-one mentoring, learning set meetings, and group sessions. Mentors also ensure they have a visible presence in halls by holding regular drop in sessions which are open to all.
Currently, the project is being piloted across two halls of residence, which house 630 first year students.
Lara Beech who is a residential wellbeing mentor said: "I think it's amazing that attitudes around mental health are changing and more people are talking about their experiences. However, many people are still suffering in silence. I think my role is incredibly important, because by being in halls of residence, I am there when anyone needs to talk about anything - whether it's an issue with flatmates, or worries about deadlines or finances - so that we can address those issues before they become too big."