AMOSSHE, in collaboration with Unite Students, is supporting a series of member-led projects related to the theme “student resilience in an accommodation setting”.
These projects extend sector knowledge about how Student Services professionals can develop student resilience, specifically within a student accommodation setting, and contribute to the development of a sector-wide student resilience toolkit.
A 2015 survey by the National Union of Students for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Students reported that as many as 78% of respondents experienced mental health issues, with one third of respondents reporting experiencing suicidal thoughts. For this reason, mental health charity Mind has identified university students to be a group in need of interventions to boost emotional resilience and self-management, to both prevent future mental health problems and mitigate against mild mental health problems becoming worse.
Like other higher education providers, Bournemouth University has seen an increased demand for student support, with anxiety being (by a huge margin) the main cause of seeking support. 39.3% of those seen by the Student Wellbeing service in 2015/16 reported anxiety as the main reason for referral. The next biggest reason was depression and mood change (at 21.4%), with relationships the third highest at 10.5%. The impact is twofold: students are not likely to succeed to the best of their potential if they are facing emotional challenges, and the university is unable to continue to increase resources indefinitely. Therefore there is a need to find a way to help these students deal with the uncertainties of life and study which may be impacting upon them.
Bournemouth University has already worked in partnership with Mind on the development of the Emooji app and has been exploring other ways to work in partnership to support students.
Since 2012 Mind has developed and delivered similarly designed interventions for other at risk groups (women in the perinatal period, unemployed men, people living with long term physical health conditions, socially isolated older people, emergency services personnel). Mind's courses are based on the approach that emotional resilience can be enhanced through three fundamental elements:
Findings from Mind’s programme delivered to women in the perinatal period showed that over seven out of ten women reported an increase in their wellbeing, almost eight out of ten an increase in self-efficacy and coping skills, and over seven out of ten an increase in social networks and support. Overall, 79.1% of women showed in increase in emotional resilience, with just over 2% reporting no change.
Bournemouth University has been in discussions with Mind about creating a similar course for students. The project team believes that by providing an intervention, co-produced with students, embedded into the Residential Life (Res Life) programme (which integrates pastoral, social, and academic support), they can build resilience to improve the mental health outcomes for students.
This partnership project brings together Bournemouth University and Mind with accommodation providers Unite Students, Campus Living Villages (CLV) and Vero to design and deliver, in collaboration with Bournemouth University students, a course to improve the emotional resilience and wellbeing of students. The course will empower beneficiaries to better manage their own mental health.
Bournemouth University aims to use the tried and tested methodology of Mind’s ‘Service Design in Mind’ toolkit to co-produce a course with students, based on Mind’s established and evaluated resilience approach. The resulting student-led, resilience informed, co-produced course aims to meet the needs of the Bournemouth University population and be applicable to the higher education sector more widely.
The project aims to introduce and develop the three fundamental elements of emotional resilience through delivery of a multi-week course that will encourage participants to explore these elements to build their own resilience and support one another in doing so. Participants will be identified from those students living in Bournemouth University or partner halls, therefore falling under Bournemouth University’s Res Life programme. The project will address both internal and external resilience factors as required.
The project has three main objectives:
This project draws on the experiences of Mind’s wider evidence-based resilience work with individuals and groups facing risk factors for the development of mental health problems. Through independent evaluations of previous programmes working with different audiences, this work has demonstrated improvements in wellbeing, social connectivity and psychological coping skills.
Monitoring and evaluation will be a key part of the project, and the project team will assess both process and impact. The process assessment will focus on gathering feedback about the intervention used by each participant, allowing the team to compare the differences in experience. This will help to understand what other information could have been provided, what else could have helped participants to learn better, and ultimately enable improvements to the delivery model in future iterations of this project.
The impact assessment will be focused on specific outcomes experienced by individuals, which the team plans to measure using the following validated scales:
Initial measurements on all these scales will be taken at the beginning of the course, by course facilitators at the outset of the intervention. The measurements will be taken again at the conclusion of each programme to capture improvements. All information will be held on a database managed by the Mind Research & Evaluation Team, with strict adherence to Data Protection Policies.
The project aims to deliver the intervention to 16 Bournemouth University students in one cohort. Each student will provide impact monitoring data at the beginning and at the end of the programme, as set out above, to measure the impact of the intervention on their individual wellbeing, self-efficacy and social connections. Although the project team will only seek this small cohort in the first instance, the recruitment base for participants will be broad, and therefore achievable, as Bournemouth University has over 3,000 first year students resident within the university’s accommodation provision (and therefore members of the Res Life programme).
The project outputs / products will include a written report on the project findings from the evaluation and the service design process, including an intervention protocol developed from the service design process. The course model has enormous scalability potential. Mind is a federated network of 136 organisations across England and Wales, with a voice on many national fora, where the findings can be disseminated.