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Mental health focus on postgraduate students

Leeds Beckett University is helping to promote positive mental health among research students as part of a national project focused on wellbeing in higher education.

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The Carnegie School of Education is taking part in a national £1.5million Catalyst Fund programme alongside 16 other universities in England.

The programme aims to enhance the wellbeing of postgraduate research students, increasing students’ knowledge of mental health issues and providing additional support networks.

Leeds Beckett has been awarded £15,000 by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to take part.

Professor Jonathan Glazzard, who leads research at the University’s Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools, said: "Research has shown that higher education institutions need to address the issue of mental health among postgraduate research students.

"As part of the Catalyst Fund programme, we will be able to support these students and make a real difference to their mental health and wellbeing."

According to recent research, over 50 per cent of PhD students reported symptoms of psychological distress, while about a third were at risk of developing a psychiatric disorder.

Reasons for their symptoms included social isolation, a lack of an established support network and a reliance on a supervisor for pastoral and academic support.

The three-year study, which starts in April, aims to improve knowledge of mental health issues among students and their supervisors.

Group mentoring will be used to increase social interactions, with online resources available to enhance induction and training for students and staff.

Leeds Beckett, in partnership with the University of Portsmouth, will support more than 1,000 students during the course of the programme.

Professor Madeleine Atkins, HEFCE Chief Executive, said: “This programme to develop extra support for postgraduate research students is timely, and complements the resources HEFCE already provides to support student safeguarding and to address barriers to student success.

“We are delighted to support these innovative projects in the important area of mental health and wellbeing, and look forward to successful outcomes and the sharing of good practice for the benefit of all postgraduate research students.”

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