The Open University (OU) has partnered with the Mental Health Foundation on a study to pool students’ experiences of mental health related education in schools, colleges and universities across the UK.
Designed in collaboration with students who have drawn from their own experiences of mental health in education, the study will take place on the OU’s citizen science platform, nQuire. By capturing insights from current and recent students, researchers will be able to build an informed scientific understanding of mental health provision in education.
The study will contribute to recommendations for schools, colleges and universities to better support mental health education in the future and will add to continued student-focussed research, such as the Mental Health Foundation’s State of a generation report, which has shown that students are dealing with high levels of stress, due to exam pressure, problems at home and other difficult life experiences.
- The first part of the study involves a social mission (a short, open, public study) for students to share their experiences of mental health during their time in education; both positive and negative. It also features a forum-like chat for people to further discuss the findings.
- The second part of the study involves a confidential mission (a closed, secure study), allowing students to disclose experiences in more detail, with all data secured and anonymised.
Commenting on the importance of having a student-focused study led by students, Shelley Buckley, Programme Manager for Children, Families and Young People (Scotland) at the Mental Health Foundation, stated:
“The Mental Health Foundation’s vision is good mental health for all. As well as helping young people to better understand, protect and sustain their own mental health, we want to drive those wider societal changes that support people to live well. That’s why we are keen to consult with students in this project and learn how we can meaningfully involve young people in the design and delivery of citizen science, so we can generate ideas for how to improve the mental health of our communities.”
“We believe research about students is more relevant, accessible and powerful by involving them in the design. This is important when we consider issues like power or stigma. By enabling people to have a say on how research is designed and disseminated we are more likely to understand what the issues are.”
Discussing the role that the citizen science missions have in giving a voice to students on an open platform, Dr Christothea Herodotou, Associate Professor at the OU, commented:
“We want to democratise research processes by opening up data to participants and thus we encourage people to revisit nQuire to see how emerging findings are changing over time.”
“Findings will be shared with participants via nQuire, while a detailed report will be produced in an effort to influence policy and practice about future mental health provision in schools, colleges and universities.”
By contributing to the study, participants can help the Mental Health Foundation and the OU build a picture of students’ experiences in relation to mental health education in schools, colleges, and universities.
The study will remain open until 20 December 2021. To complete the study, please visit: https://nquire.org.uk/
James works as the Communications Manager for the OU’s Institute of Educational Technology. He trained as an international journalist at the Dutch and Danish Schools of Journalism and has worked on number of political events for the BBC and Sky News. In his spare time James enjoys cooking, playing sports and planning his next break away.