The National Association of Disability Practitioners (NADP)
Autumn 2014 Conference – Supporting Students with Mental Health Issues
London: 4th November | Manchester: 11th November
This month, the University Mental Health Advisers Network (UMHAN) were invited to present at the National Association of Disability Practitioners (NADP) autumn conferences on the topic of ‘Supporting Students with Mental Health Issues’. The conference offered insight into the various perspectives of key identities in the topic of student mental health; from the practitioners’ perspective, to the student voice, to what we can interpret from the statistics.
– Dan Doran, UMHAN Secretary, speaking at the conference in Manchester.
Both student-speakers highlighted that to engage with students, institutions should make use of “more student led support” (student speaking in Manchester), perhaps by “having a PhD student mentor [as this may be seen as] less intimidating than speaking to a tutor” (student speaking in London). It was also suggested that to break down the barriers of support, students could be made more aware that mental health difficulties can affect anyone, including university staff, so as to lead by example and combat the social isolation felt. This led on to the idea that there could be greater awareness about disclosing as “[students should] know that they can and how to [disclose]” (student speaking in Manchester).
This theme was entwined with one reason why, for many students, support is often not put in place early enough: the problem of under disclosure and discrepancy between prevalence of mental health difficulties and the rates of disclosed disabilities. Whilst this discrepancy may be due to those with mental health difficulties not identifying with the term ‘disability’ (although it is encompassed under ‘disability’ in accordance with the Equality Act and a mental health difficulty can, on occasion, be disabling), the presentations highlighted the idea that this problem may be exacerbated if we are unaware of what happens next in the process of disclosure. If you are a prospective student, what happens after you have ticked the ‘disability’ box on the UCAS form? If you, as a current student, choose to disclose to an institution, what is the next step?
“One difficulty that we have in this area is being too reactive, instead of preventative and proactive”. – Comments from a conference delegate (London).
If you would like to share a personal experience of a time when choosing to disclose has been constructive, please have a read of our blogging guidelines and let us know.
To see the UMHAN brochure and presentation
for the NADP conferences, have a look at the
Conferences Section of our website.