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Summary: Mental Health

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What do we mean by Mental Health?

“In many ways, mental health is just like physical health: everybody has it and we need to take care of it”.

Good mental health means being generally able to think, feel and react in the ways that you need and want to live your life. But if you go through a period of poor mental health you might find the ways you’re frequently thinking, feeling or reacting become difficult, or even impossible, to cope with. This can feel just as bad as a physical illness, or even worse.

Mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year. They range from common problems, such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder” (MIND 2020)


Learners with mental health problems may face challenges in all areas of student life:

  • General organisation, timekeeping, attendance
  • Student life / social activities
  • Research, reading and composition.
  • Teaching and learning – online and face to face
  • Exams and timed assessments
  • Placement, work experience and field trips

Issues might include:

  • Concern about other people’s perceptions of them
  • Impaired concentration
  • Lack of motivation
  • Uncertainty and becoming overwhelmed by new people, places and processes.
  • Procrastination and avoidance – putting off difficult tasks.
  • Social anxiety and isolation, transition into new environments
  • Poor self-care
  • Lack of engagement in class and group work
  • Perfectionism
  • Structuring and organising work and activities
  • Exam anxiety both in preparing for and sitting exams.

Points for reflection

  • What changes to your teaching could you introduce to support all students in playing a full part in your course?
  • How might you create the environment within which students would feel comfortable disclosing the anxieties and difficulties they face?
  • What else might tutors have done to support Sam differently when they first arrived at University?


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