• Managing student mental health: The challenges faced by academics on professional health care courses

      Hughes, Gareth; Byrom, Nicola C.; University of Derby; Kings College London (Wiley, 2019-03-05)
      To explore how academics on nursing and healthcare programmes are managing their roles and responsibility in relation to student mental health. There is growing concern about the mental health of university students in general and healthcare students in particular. Shifts in Higher Education policy, encouraging a ‘whole university approach,’ may place greater responsibility for student mental health on academics. However, little is known about the challenges that poor student mental health creates for academics on healthcare programmes. A qualitative approach, using semi‐structured interviews and focus groups, provided the opportunity for in‐depth analysis. Fourteen academics on healthcare programmes, including seven lecturers from nursing programmes, were interviewed between May and June 2017. Constant comparison analysis was followed to support grounded theory. Four key themes emerged. Academics had difficulty identifying and maintaining boundaries due to competing academic and professional identities. Student disclosures are accompanied by challenges arising due to professional responsibilities. Supporting student mental health on placement is difficult. Academics are aware and concerned about the potential negative impact of course content and practice on student mental health. This is the first study to explore in‐depth the challenges faced by academics on healthcare programmes by the rising prevalence of and concern for, student mental health. The findings indicate that leaders of nursing education programmes and their managers, need to be aware that academics face complex challenges in managing and responding student mental health and may struggle to maintain boundaries due, in part, to competing professional identities.
    • Predicting stress and mental wellbeing among doctoral researchers

      Byrom, Nicola C.; Dinu, Larisa; Kirkman, Ann; Hughes, Gareth; Kings College London; University of Derby (Informa UK Limited, 2020-09-24)
      Although mental health in higher education is increasingly recognised as a public health issue, postgraduate research students are often overlooked. Recent studies indicate a high prevalence of mental distress in this population. This study assesses the experience of doctoral researchers and identifies factors influencing mental wellbeing and perceived stress. A cross-sectional study examined how key demographic, individual and contextual factors related to stress and mental wellbeing in a sample of 431 doctoral researchers in the United Kingdom. Respondents gave positive reports about their supervisory relationship and identified feeling confidently prepared for their work. Family support, good general health, sleep and low levels of self-depreciation predicted stronger mental wellbeing and lower levels of stress. Students who were confident about their future career and felt well prepared for their studies were less stressed and those who were achievement orientated had better mental wellbeing. Focused attention on exploring career options and building confidence may help reduce stress among doctoral researchers. Taking steps to tackle the imposter phenomenon may help further. These could include addressing fear of failure, improving confidence in research ability and clarifying the role of doctoral researchers within the wider academic community.