Throughout October 2021, staff and students from our Mental Health Nursing team in the School of Health Sciences are sharing series of blog posts covering important mental health topics and looking at mental health within our University community.
The next post in the series is from Dr Michael Ramsay, Professional Lead in the School of Health Sciences, who discusses the importance of a collaborative community effort when it comes to mental health.
Student mental health and wellbeing has been a topic of growing concern for universities in the United Kingdom for several years now, with reported increased incidence among student bodies of mental health challenges and diagnostic-level mental ill-health. The University of Dundee is no exception, but it has taken a pro-active view of this challenge for several years and has a well-established network of psychosocial supports available for students and staff.
As a lecturer in mental health nursing and previously professional lead for mental health, I have, with my colleagues, seen this increase at close hand amongst our own students. In the past year I have been the School of Health Sciences Disability Support Officer (DSO) and that role has further highlighted the number of students who come forward for assessment and support with their mental health, with Disabilities Service staff and other DSO’s confirming greater numbers of students presenting and requiring reasonable adjustments, with anxiety and mood disorders being most prevalent.
It is worrying to know so many have these mental health issues, but equally it is gratifying that previous levels of stigma have been challenged so that people feel they can come forward for help.
I have previously supported University mental health staff interviews in the Health Service and acted as a reflective and confirming registrant for Nursing and Midwifery Council revalidation for colleagues, for a few years. As part of my Objective Setting and Review in 2020, however, I was given the chance to practise within the University Health Service for two hours a week as a mental health nurse. This collaboration between an academic School and the University Health Services augments the team they have to deal with referrals, and provides a new interface for me as a clinician with students, sharpening my skills and clinical currency in the classroom.
Working productively together this way has not only benefits my own learning and teaching skills, and my own development, but also health service provision and student wellbeing. These were key reasons in my 2021 review for allowing a second year of work with the University mental health team.
Get help with mental health:
The Counselling Service offers short-term counselling to current Dundee University students and staff.
We have a team of counsellors with a wide variety of backgrounds and experience, and our sessions are free.
Counselling provides a safe space for you to talk about your issues or concerns. Our sessions are friendly, supportive and confidential. It’s healthier to explore it with an experienced counsellor than bottle it up and never see an improvement. And if we can’t help you, we’ll let you know and we may also suggest other sources of help.
Around one in four people will experience a mental health difficulty at some point, so it’s possible that some students and staff will experience this while at university.
Mental health issues vary hugely from person to person so what works for someone else may not work for you. You may be able to help yourself through a change in behaviour, or it may be helpful to get support from a trained professional. Visit the University’s online guide for getting help with your mental health.