• The Challenge of Student Mental Well-Being: Reconnecting Students Services with the Academic Universe

      Hughes, Gareth; University of Derby (Springer, 2021-03-22)
      Current dialogues in the Higher Education sector highlight a range of tensions and uncertainties about university responses to student mental health that potentially contribute to a lack of clarity about the role of Student Services and institutions. These dialogues suggest that there is a need for theory which can seek to answer the following four central questions: 1. What role should universities and Student Services play in relation to student mental health and well-being? 2. What balance of proactive and reactive responses should universities adopt? 3. If institutions are to adopt a “whole university approach,” what should the role of Student Services be within this approach? 4. How closely positioned should Student Services be to core university missions and the academic universe? This chapter explores these issues and proposes a conceptual model for Student Services’ responses to well-being and learning, arguing for the adoption of a research, practice, and teaching model to ensure better collaboration between academic and professional staff and closer integration of well-being and learning. Using practical examples and clinical evidence, it argues that well-being services should be based on developmental rather than deficiency-based models of practice and that well-being interventions should include support for academic learning.
    • Transition distress: a psychological process

      Hughes, Gareth; University of Derby (BACP, 2016-09-01)
      It will come as no surprise to anybody working within higher education, that many students find the transition into university emotionally and psychologically difficult. We clearly understand that students going through transition can experience psychological distress, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, a reduction in self-esteem and isolation.1–5 Many students describe a loss of feelings of control, and doubts about whether or not to stay at their new university. This is particularly concerning for universities, as research has identified that successful transition is a key element in determining retention and future student success.6–10 While most of us probably recognise all of this, there is often less understanding about why some students find transition so difficult, and more importantly, what we can do about it. In the last few years, I and my colleagues in Student Wellbeing at the University of Derby have been researching student transition in order to develop better interventions to support new students. Our research, and the research of many others in the field, suggests that we may need to rethink some of the ways in which we approach transition, if we want to provide our students with the most effective support. In this article, I briefly describe some of our work so far (some of which has been published and presented elsewhere), and propose a new model of transition. I do this with one important caveat. As George Box said: ‘All models are wrong, but some models are useful.’11 I don’t pretend that this model encapsulates every single student’s experience but I hope it may provide a useful way of thinking about what our students may be experiencing, how we can target our support and how this learning can be used to good effect in the therapy room.