• 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.
    • Student perspectives on improving mental health support services at university

      Priestley, Michael; Broglia, Emma; Hughes, Gareth; Spanner, Leigh; Durham University; University of Sheffield; University of Derby; Student Minds, Leeds (Wiley, 2021-02-08)
      Drawing on thematic analysis of six student co-creation panels, conducted during the Student Minds University Mental Health Charter consultations, this paper elucidates students’ perspectives and proposals regarding the current issues and challenges around university student mental health and well-being support services. In particular, panels identified existing challenges and opportunities to improve support service access, strategy, and delivery. The panels generated a series of recommendations aimed to establish a clear, coordinated, and strategic approach to delivering accessible and inclusive student mental health support services that are responsive to the diverse needs of the whole student population. Significantly, the student panels situated service reforms within a ‘whole university approach’ entailing holistic structural and cultural change to the university environment, in order to enrich student mental health and well-being and reduce demand on services. The findings of this paper can both reaffirm and specify the principles of good practice propounded by the University Mental Health Charter from a student perspective.