On 16th March, Universities UK held their Student Mental Wellbeing conference. UMHAN played an active role in the day, as Lydia Pell, UMHAN Chair, spoke alongside Anna Matthews of UMO (University Mentoring) on the benefits of mental health mentoring.
As Specialist Mentors are increasingly integrated into UMHAN’s membership, the role has never been more relevant to UMHAN’s aims. Bringing Mental Health Advisers and Mentors together, the similarities of the roles and their abilities to complement one another are clear. “Anna and I enjoyed presenting together as we work in similar ways with students, but in different models of providing mental health mentoring,” Lydia said.
What is Mental Health Mentoring?
As Lydia and Anna explained, mentoring provides practical support to students with mental health difficulties, identifying barriers to learning and strategies to overcome them. Through developing a long-term relationship with a student, a mentor encourages independence in managing both learning and mental health.
How does mentoring help?
Among students, mentoring has been found to increase student satisfaction, ability in their course, and a greater understanding of self. From an institutional perspective, mentoring has boosted retention, and been matched with a decrease in claims of discrimination against universities.
Examples of the success of mentoring may also be seen in the success stories provided:
“It has helped me settle in at college, helped me to untangle how to access various resources, made me more confident in asking for things and to connect with people at college.” (BSc student, London university, 2016)
“I don't think I would be able to continue with my course without the help of my mentor. The opportunity to discuss and reflect on the problems that my disability causes in relation to my studies has been invaluable. I may have got more out of learning through reflection about my capabilities and overcoming my limitations from my mentoring than I have from my course in fact.” (BSc student, 2014)
“Our session was really well attended by a broad range of delegates from the conference. We were able to discuss what makes Mental Health Mentoring unique to the field of education, how it differs from counselling interventions, and how students feel about the mentoring they have received. The conference itself was really engaging and thought provoking this year, with a great opening speech from MP Norman Lamb.”