Working together to improve mental health services for students
05 Mar 19 - 04 Mar 20
It’s University Mental Health Day on 7 March and this year’s theme is all about the power of using your voice to help shape the future of student mental health. The University of Hertfordshire has been working closely with Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT) to enhance its mental health and wellbeing services, including linking students with appropriate expert support and referring students for fast assessments if they are seriously unwell.
Dedicated HPFT Community Mental Health nurse on campus
Two years ago HPFT appointed a Community Mental Health Nurse/Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Therapist to work with students on the university campus every week, which provides consistency of support for students. Working closely with the University of Hertfordshire Student Wellbeing team and the Community Mental Health Nurse, HPFT can handle referrals from the university’s mental health team more speedily and work together with student service users in a more holistic way.
HPFT’s Community Mental Health Nurse/CBT Therapist Monika Lee said “Working together for the students is making an incredible difference to them and we’re continually looking for ways to make it even easier for them to access services.”
A University of Hertfordshire postgraduate student who has received support from both HPFT and the Student Wellbeing team commented:
“Although I did well in my first year at university, during my second year I started to struggle as the past caught up with me. A GP at the University of Hertfordshire Medical Centre referred me to HPFT’s Community Adult Mental Health Services. I was offered almost a year of psychological therapy, which has helped me cope better with the past and also with the present. When my sessions ended my Mental Wellbeing Advisor suggested I see a Mental Health Nurse at the University Wellbeing Centre. She has given me some really good advice and ways to deal with my low mood and strategies to help me get through the day and try and do the things I need to do, such as attending lectures.”
A recent graduate commented: “I am extremely grateful to my counsellor for the help and support he gave me. He made himself available whenever I needed to talk to someone, even during school holidays when I wasn't on campus."
HPFT’s Director of Quality and Safety and Chief Nurse Dr Jane Padmore said: “At HPFT we’re always looking for ways to improve our services and it’s great that working more collaboratively with the mental health teams at the University of Hertfordshire is working so well and helping their students to receive the support they need, when they need it.”
“Don’t be scared to tell us”
The University of Hertfordshire has a large community of 24,500 students and has integrated mental health into all of its services, providing help and support to those who need it. The university also has its own mental health and counselling teams on the campus, helping support students with a range of issues across the whole mental health spectrum.
Lena Kloos, Head of Student Wellbeing, University of Hertfordshire, said: “We’re in regular contact with many of the teams at HPFT and we’ve built up relationships which are making an enormous difference to how our students are supported. Some students arrive with complex and enduring mental health difficulties, whilst others develop problems after they join us.
“It’s common for students to feel more vulnerable being away from home for the first time, without their regular support networks around them. They might be feeling lonely, having problems fitting in, or they might be struggling with their workload. The most important message for students is not to be scared to tell us. We always act as quickly as we can to help students who need our support whether it be their first experience of mental health difficulties or a longer-term condition.”
The university is organising a workshop focusing on improving emotional resilience on University Mental Health Day.