Supporting students in Scotland to thrive

We are delighted to launch Thriving Learners: an ambitious research project to enable a better understanding of the mental health experiences and challenges faced by students in Scotland. 

With the knowledge and insight gathered, we will provide recommendations for best practice in prevention, early intervention and support of students’ emotional wellbeing in our universities and colleges. 

Working with our partners, Universities Scotland, Colleges Scotland and The Robertson Trust, the study will be undertaken over two years.  We hope that over 50,000 students across Scotland will participate by sharing their opinions and experiences. 

Year one will focus on university students with research undertaken with students and their student associations; academic and professional staff; as well as the Scottish Funding Council and Scottish Government. In year two, from August 2021, the study will concentrate on the experience of college students. 

Through Thriving Learners we will identify what works within the existing provision of services to prevent and support mental health problems among students.   By listening to what students and staff at universities and colleges across Scotland, we will offer recommendations for improvements that will empower students to live mentally healthy lives. 

Julie Cameron, Associate Director of Mental Health Foundation said:

“We are delighted to be playing a key role in this vital new piece of research which helps provide a crucial insight into the mental health and wellbeing of young learners across Scotland.

“Mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression, can happen at any age. But young adulthood represents such an important time for development, and it’s vital we speak to them directly to understand what challenges their mental health, as well as protects and promotes it, and introduce ways to help them reach their full potential.

Professor Pamela Gillies, Lead Member for Mental Health at Universities Scotland and Principal of Glasgow Caledonian University said:

“The sector in Scotland is committed to ensure that they can help every student to flourish during their time at university.

From 11 January to 31 March 2021, we are inviting students at the 19 universities across Scotland to share their views and experiences in our survey.

Prize draws will see three survey participants at each university win either £75 (x1) or £50 (x2).

Get involved!

Thrive Learners Privacy Notice

Real life experience

Joe Gilfillan, 26, from Barrhead, studies Computer Networking at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) where he is the Sports President. When he started at UWS in 2016 Joe was aware that he needed to reach out to the university’s student support services. “My course wasn’t quite what I expected and I wasn’t finding it easy to mingle. In addition to my studies, I was caring for my mum who doesn’t keep the best of health. I was finding it a struggle. My counsellor Cat was very, very good. She helped me find time for myself and she helped me get plugged into the other sources of support that exist at the university. Students should know that there’s help and I’m using my role as Sports President to give a platform to talk about my experience.”

Joe’s counsellor, Cat Macnab has worked as a Student Counsellor at UWS for the past seven years, “Joe is an exceptional person and it’s great to share his story and recovery. The numbers of students requiring help have increased dramatically in the past few years, with more complex needs. The stigma around mental health has declined with this generation of students and hopefully this research will help us further in matching provision to student’s needs.”