• 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.