Research carried out by BSV Associates for National Union of Students Scotland in 2020. Believed to be the first of its kind in Scotland, covering both further and higher education students, the research included a survey of over 3,000 college and university students, alongside in-depth analysis of the mental health and wellbeing services of eight case-study institutions.
Many universities, colleges and mental health agencies have recognised the growing issue of student mental ill health. However little research exists to tell us why mental ill health is on the increase among students and what issues in particular concern them. In recognition of this, NUS Scotland conducted research into student stress and support. The survey was completed by over 1800 students from 19 colleges and 15 universities across Scotland. The survey asked students to identify which issues caused them stress while studying, where they would turn to for support and what, if anything, acts as a barrier to them in coming forward for support for a mental health concern.
The NUS Scotland 2010 report, Silently Stressed, quantified headline figures and provided a basic knowledge of these issues. In recognition of this, NUS Scotland has conducted further research to improve the depth of knowledge and understanding behind these figures. As such, student focus groups and staff interviews were conducted at seven colleges and universities across Scotland and over 80 individuals were involved in the research.
Students and staff from universities and colleges across Scotland consistently tell us that support to improve student mental health needs to be a priority. Experiencing mental illness or poor mental wellbeing can have a pronounced impact on a student’s attendance, attainment, and even result in them leaving their course before completion. We wanted to find out more about students’ experience of managing mental ill health while studying. With funding from the ALLIANCE we were able to undertake research on self-management with students experiencing mental illness. We hope that this report will allow students and staff to think about mental health from a new perspective and highlight the ways in which to best support students to self-manage