SITUATE programme, one year on

One year on from starting the SITUATE project with the University of Sussex, the world looks quite a bit different.

Today’s first year university students have lived through the uncertainty of the A-Level results, months of disruption to learning in their final year of school, and not being able to properly mark and celebrate significant moments, like their last day of school, and leaving home for the first time. They’re now facing a university experience unlike any other before and must still contend with all of the challenges university brings.

Then there are the added challenges faced by mature students, students who are parents or carers, students who work part time, or students living with long-term conditions.

A positive outcome of the pandemic is that across the country there seem to be more and more conversations about the impact of our circumstances on our mental health.

Finding a solution

As students are among the least likely to ask for help for a mental health problem, tackling the stigma around mental health is crucial. 75% of students with a mental health diagnosis admitted to concealing their symptoms due to a fear of stigma. That’s why we spent the summer working with students from the University of Sussex to design and deliver a national student-led social media campaign, #BehindTheBooks.

We launched the campaign at the end of September to coincide with Freshers’ Week. The aim was to tackle stigma, raise awareness of the issues faced by students, and to encourage students to seek support for their mental health. Over the coming year we’ll be training students to deliver workshops to their peers, aiming to increase mental health literacy and help-seeking.