Moving to university is an exciting time but for many, it is also a testing time. There is pressure on universities to provide better support for their students- with a recent increase of students dropping out due to mental health issues.
The most recent data taken from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) showed that a record of 1,180 students who experienced mental health issues left university early in 2014-15. It represents a 210% increase from 380 in 2009-10.
The University of Sheffield has plenty of initiatives to support their students in place. In particular Residence Life: a service for students living in university accommodation.
Gregory Pevy, residence life officer (support and conduct) says “residence life offers peer support through the residential mentor scheme, with every resident having a peer mentor who visits on a weekly basis – through the team we respond to anything that is flagged up to us”.
Majority of the residents supported by the Residence Life are first-year students. However, the service is also available to families, returning students and post-graduate students.
For mental health week, Residence Life focused on their normal well-being courses, which involved lifestyle tips and workshops along with their social sports program which allows students to meet and engage with new people whilst at the same time staying active.
Mr. Pevy says: “as a department, Residence life has certainly seen an increase in disclosure regarding mental ill health, not necessarily a crisis being suicide”.
He adds: “though we have seen a significant rise, it is in line with other U.K higher education institutions who’ve also seen the same. Particularly down to culture change and the willingness to discuss it to get the appropriate help, rather than just a lack of resilience within the community”.
Students living in university accommodation can benefit from a wide range of actives, events, sports fundraising, life-skills, volunteering opportunities and information and awareness campaigns through Residence Life.
Mr. Pevy says “we have a number of services in place and plans to help students who our residence life mentors have flagged up to us, such as working closely with the student’s study of department, counseling and holistic approaches”.