Week-long campaign to support student mental health launched as part of pioneering scheme

A week of activities to promote student mental health and wellbeing begins today as part of a pioneering partnership led by Keele University.

The innovative Start to Success programme, led by Keele in collaboration with Staffordshire University and other partners, was launched at the start of this year to provide an integrated community approach to mental health and wellbeing for students in further and higher education.

As part of the programme, a week-long mental health campaign has launched today to encourage students throughout Stoke and Staffordshire to reflect on their mental health and learn about strategies for managing their wellbeing.

Maintaining good mental health has been highlighted as being particularly important throughout this year due to the Covid-19 lockdown in March and the current lockdown in England, which has led to the campaign being launched virtually with all sessions moved online.

Students from both universities and local colleges were instrumental in designing the campaign, taking part in workshops to identify the key themes they wanted to address in their sessions.

These have been crucial for designing the programme of events, and throughout the week participants will engage with a variety of sessions around different themes on each day including reducing stigma, self-help, and reducing isolation.

The virtual campaign launch will also involve a number of key messages being shared on social media pages across the universities. At Keele there will also be a series of virtual activities taking place including short talks on wellbeing at university and how to keep active at home or in halls, while the Sports Centre team will also be sharing a daily wellbeing challenge.

Katie Laverty, Director of Student Services at Keele University said: “The health and wellbeing of our students is our utmost priority, particularly at this strange and difficult time. Our Start to Success project is proud to be working with partners across the region to raise awareness of what support is available to students both on and off campus as well as sharing key messages about isolation, stigma and self-care.

“This campaign will encourage students to reach out and make meaningful connections with others, speak openly about their experiences and recognise when they might need to get help. We’re delighted to share this campaign with students across the region and contribute towards our whole community approach to support student mental health.”

Ian Munton, Director of Library and Student Services at Staffordshire University added: “Our aim with this project was to develop a whole community commitment to mental health, not just within our own individual settings but throughout this extensive partnership. We are a year into ‘Start to Success’ and are beginning to see the impact that the work of so many committed and passionate staff and students is having.

“This most recent campaign is in itself an example of how students and staff, working together and talking openly about mental health, can positively impact and influence the experiences and behaviours of those within our community. In what is such a challenging time, when we all might benefit from help and support, this campaign is very welcome.”