Posted 19 May 2020

How can mental health be improved in creative education?

Our latest Insight Report is now available to Lecture in Progress Members, and this time we’re looking into mental health within creative higher education. Released in time for Mental Health Awareness Week, this is a crucial topic we were keen to cover in ways that both expose the severity of the issue, while shedding light on how we can work to improve the situation. If you haven’t already, you can sign up as a Member to download the full report. Here, we’re sharing an overview of what to expect.

In recent years we’ve seen an influx of concerning statistics surrounding mental health within higher education in the UK. As we put together our last report into creative higher education, we couldn’t help but notice a stark increase in the number of articles on this topic – many of which deemed the situation a full-blown crisis.

One study by UUK found that demands for counselling and wellbeing services grew by up to 30% in the past three years. And, between 2016–2017, it was estimated that 95 students took their own lives; a devastating figure that triggered more urgent calls for action. However, the majority of universities have been slow to respond, and according to Student Minds’ 2019 report, 70% of universities do not have any strategy for mental health.

While there has been some excellent coverage of the scale of this issue, in this report we were keen to focus on some proactive approaches with positive results. We wanted to highlight the approaches that could be more widely adopted – not only with key statistics, but also with first-hand accounts of the initiatives that have been implemented and the impact they’ve seen.

Below is a breakdown of what you’ll find within the report’s 85 pages:

A Wider View of the Issue

Important Statistics
An overview of the state of mental health in UK higher education in numbers, drawn from a range of existing reports and studies.

Recent News
A summary of esential news stories from the past year, broken down into themes covering:

• Mental Health
• Pipeline
• Fees
• On Campus
• Work

In-Depth Insight

The Student Experience
We spoke to fashion communications grad Rosa Kimosa, who shared her experience of anxiety as a student, reflecting on the potential triggers, the support she received and her observations from becoming a mental health advocate and confidant to fellow students.

The Tutor Approach
In our conversation with Brighton tutor Jasper Goodall, he explained why he chose to take matters into his own hands and train as a counsellor to provide extra support for his students. He describes his journey to making the decision, and how his training has helped.

The University Approach
Steve West is both the vice-chancellor of the University of the West of England as well as chair of Universities UK’s Mental Health in Higher Education Working Group. Steve told us about his work to overhaul mental health strategies in universities and UWE’s Mental Wealth programme.

The Student-led Approach
Nottingham student Camilla Babbage is a facilitator for charity Student Minds’ Positive Minds peer support programme. Camilla told us how the initiative has created safe, confidential spaces, and why she feels peer-to-peer connection and advice is particularly effective.

The Tech Approach
Fika is a digital mental-education provider and app, currently in use in over 28 UK universities. Having attracted more than 17,000 users since launching last year, we talk to co-founder Nick Bennett about the founding principles and its findings so far; and, from a university perspective, Bath Spa senior lecturer and Fika user Victoria Opara tells us how it’s been adopted so far.


You can read the full report by downloading it as a Lecture in Progress Member. If you haven’t already, you can sign up as a Member for free here. Members receive access to exclusive offers and promotions, and two newsletters a week.

Written by Creative Lives in Progress
Contributor by Laura Snoad