Improving Student Mental Health Outcomes

  • Thursday, 16 May 2019
  • Mary Ward House Conference & Exhibition Centre
  • 10:00 - 16:05
  • Overview

Recognition of student mental health and wellbeing issues has led to a culture change in further and higher education institutions. This conference will bring together F/HEIs, public, voluntary and third sector service providers; service users and mental health professionals to review progress made in addressing MH on campus', share best practices and develop their approach to improving student mental health outcomes.     

Pressures brought on by workloads, budgeting, relationships and the transition to independent living contribute to an environment in which, according to YouGov’s 2016 survey of British students, more than a quarter (27%) of student’s reported having struggled with mental health issues. The Institute for Public Policy Research’s 2017 survey ‘Not by degrees: Improving student health in UK universities’ revealed that 95% of HEIs had reported an increase in the demand for counselling services. In 2016/17 student suicides have increased to 4.7% per 100,00 of the population according to the Mental Health Foundation.

Universities, colleges and schools are developing strategies and employing teams to support students developing or struggling to live with mental health issues. This conference will examine how policy can provide support for institutes and students, review the impact of HE reforms and existing cultures on student mental health; in addition to exploring how barriers to accessing services can be removed and how the stigma associated with mental health can be further eroded.

  • Confirmed Speakers

  • Event Programme


Registration and Coffee in the Networking Area


Chair's Opening Address


Keynote Address

  • John de Pury, Assistant Director of Policy and Mental Health Lead, Universities UK (invited)
"Policy to Improve Student Mental Health Outcomes"

Facing greater academic and social pressures, a lack of personalised pastoral care and growing financial burdens, the prevalence of mental health issues amongst students is on the rise. Until 2009-10, the rate of male and female students reporting mental health issues was about 0.5%. By 2015, however, it had risen to 2.5% of female students and 1.4% of male students. Suicide rates amongst students have hit record levels in recent years. Students can also face up to four months waiting times to see a counsellor about their issues. The conference keynote address will address what can be done at a senior policy level to solve the issues.


Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President, University of Bristol (invited)

"Mental Health Wellbeing at the University of Bristol"

The University of Bristol has drafted new mental health and wellbeing strategies in response to a consultation with students and staff. Key themes that have emerged from the consultation and will shape the policies are:

  • Ideas to review the structure of the academic year with a particular focus on wellbeing.
  • Support for transition points where students may be particularly vulnerable i.e. suspension of studies.
  • A commitment to collect data annually in order to identify trends that require a response and to act with transparency.
  • The nature and tone of communications around mental health.

What impact does the university's leadership anticipate the new strategies will have on student mental health?  


Rachel Reeves MP, Chair, All Parliamentary Group on Loneliness and Member of Parliament for Leeds West (invited)

"Reviewing Findings from the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission and APG on Loneliness"

Sodexo’s 2017 International University Lifestyle Survey found almost half (46%) of UK students experienced loneliness at university – compared to 32% globally. As Chair of the All Parliamentary Group on Loneliness and Co-chair of the cross-party Jo Cox Loneliness Commission; Rachel Reeves MP has played a leading role in developing a policy response to loneliness.


Main Sponsor


Question and Answer Session

John de Pury, Assistant Director of Policy and Mental Health Lead, Universities UK (invited)

Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President, The University of Bristol (invited)

Rachel Reeves MP, Chair, All Parliamentary Group on Loneliness and Member of Parliament for Leeds West (invited)


Coffee in the Networking Area


John Perry, Lead for Healthcare Communication, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton (invited)

Contemporary students are put under a wider variety of stresses than their predecessors. Increasing workload, tuition-fee debt,  

"Lived Experience of Mental Health Services in Further Education "

As Chief Justice of the Civil and Trading Court and a member of Afghanistan's Supreme Court, Marzia set-up the Afghan Women Social and Cultural Organisation (AWSCO) to provide assistance and emergency relief to refugees, primarily women and children in Afghanistan and Pakistan; in addition to supporting the development of healthcare, education, agricultural and construction projects in the central and northern regions of Afghanistan. Marzia's outstanding work for AWSCO drew the attention of terrorist organisations operating in the region and, in 2008, she came to the UK as a refugee - following an attempt on her life by the Taliban that left her hospitalised for six months.


Marzia will speak to delegates about her lived-experience of how access to mental health services in the UK helped her through the challenging transition from a life and career in Afghanistan, to re-entering domestic further education in order to study English language and the application of UK law.    

  • Professor Susan Powell, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care, Manchester Metropolitan University (confirmed)

Case Study


Question and Answer Session

Marzia Babakarkhail, Former Supreme Court Judge, Supreme Court of Afghanistan (invited)

Professor Susan Powell, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care, Manchester Metropolitan University (confirmed)

John Perry, Lead for Healthcare Communication, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton (invited)  


Lunch in the Networking Area


Chair's Afternoon Remarks


Speaker TBA


Case Study


Question and Answer Session


Chair’s Closing Remarks and Event Close

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Jonathan Smith
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Contact Details


Mary Ward House Conference & Exhibition Centre

Mary Ward House Conference & Exhibition Centre

In 2002 the building was placed on the Listed Buildings at Risk Register with the Mary Ward House trust having failed to secure lottery funding.

The building has been painstakingly renovated to ensure that this extremely important part of National Heritage continues to serve as a place of learning, knowledge dissemination and promotion of equality.

We are continually reinvesting in upgrading and renovating the building to ensure it continues to serve society through the advancement of education (by the establishment and maintenance of a Grade 1 Listed building/museum)

This objective directly enables us in; the advancement of the arts, culture, heritage and science; the relief of those in need by reason of youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage; the advancement of citizenship or community development

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