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London Universities bring mental health online

UniHealth to launch digital messaging service to help university students digitise mental health management

UniHealth, a content consultant firm whose aim is to “supply turnkey digital solutions for all your health and wellness content needs”, has recently published a report which reveals worrying statistics.

When it comes to the mental health of university students, the report states that “8 in 10 university students in the UK admit to experiencing stress and anxiety and almost half (45%) have feelings of depression. Even more worryingly, three quarters of students admit they don’t ask for help because they’re embarrassed, they don’t know where to find it or they think it’s a waste of time”.

Because of this, they have been reaching out to universities over the UK, like QMUL, with their proposition: “The report into UK students’ view of university wellbeing support, highlighted this need for different types of wellbeing support. For example, nearly a third (28%) of students said they’d prefer to receive support via private messages sent through social media… students are looking for support in different ways, on their time and where they want”. 

Daphne Metland, director of UniHealth, posits that while more face to face support seems to be the increasingly popular call to treating students’ mental health, “students are digital natives, so they are on their phone all day, every day – that’s why digital support works.

Messages that include videos, pictures and GIFs, can be delivered to students straight to their phone via social media messaging – these have much more of an impact and, unlike email, almost all (98%) are read within minutes.

For those that need extra support, frequent small messages act as ‘nudges’ towards behaviour change, offering advice, information and reminders – they can be a ‘still small voice of calm’ in the busy, buzzy world of starting university”. 

Alexandra, a Biology student says: “I think it’s a great idea, because I’m sure many students wouldn’t actually see someone face to face if they needed to just because that’s how we are. However, there’s a need to make sure it’s accessibility doesn’t compromise its value, because mental health is a very personal and contextual thing”.

Elie, studying English Literature also adds that: “I think it could work great if it empowered the users to take charge of their situation. If it’s useful enough to provide insight into symptoms of mental illness and the courses of action one could take if so, as well as maybe links to local doctors and clinics that can help out with this, then it could really benefit a lot of struggling students and Queen Mary”.

Our VP Welfare, Ahmed Mahbub, comments that: “When having to access help in a visible place, questions about whether people have seen you visit, whether they will tell people you know, and whether they’ll think less of you will often come to mind…This lack of privacy turns away vulnerable people who may be going through mental health issues…I therefore highly welcome a web-based system of reporting mental health concerns and it was one of my main things I hope to deliver during my time as VP Welfare”.


Image: iStock


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