On #UniMentalHealthDay the Government’s new student mental health taskforce and the Welsh Government’s £2m to improve mental health and wellbeing are very welcome and build on the great work already underway to improve support for student mental health.
Working with our university and business members and others last year we explored graduate wellbeing and the transition from education to employment. There is an obvious shared interest from industry and academia in the wellbeing of students and for them to do well both in education and as working graduates.
Wellbeing isn’t just about mental health, it includes confidence built through skills, training, mobility, progression and more. Wellbeing and resilience are also economic issues – with 50% of work days lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety. Should resilience be another work-ready attribute delivered by higher education? And, for the NCUB, how can universities and business work together to help students make the transition?
Our workshops highlighted the loss of access to university support in transitioning to work can be detrimental, and suggested university support might better align with the post-university world (while acknowledging the pressures on university services). For some, graduate schemes gave a more positive experience with defined structures, clear processes and peer support. The ‘unknowns’ of the world of work caused the greatest stress. With HE’s focus on employment prospects, there might be a role here in managing expectations. Some businesses acknowledged their responsibilities to workforce wellbeing and organisations such as the City Mental Health Alliance encourage collaboration among large graduate employers.
Like today’s announcements, we welcomed the OfS call for universities and colleges to work with partners, to find new ways of combating rising student mental health issues. The call addresses a need for strategic leadership in universities alongside priorities for developing an evidence base and collaborative working.
We continue to work with our members, and others, to identify drivers of change, share best practice, allowing universities and businesses to learn from one another to improve student wellbeing, increase graduate resilience, and streamline the transition from education to employment.
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