Mental ill-health is one of the main causes of disability in the UK and around the world. In the UK, up to one in four adults and one in ten children may have a mental health problem in any year, with costs likely to exceed £100 billion. People with severe mental illness experience substantial inequalities in access to, and outcomes from, health care, and their life expectancy is reduced by around 25 years. The human, social and economic costs of mental ill-health are profound.
The University of York believes that there is no health without mental health, and research in this field is a strategic priority. Under the research theme of Health and Wellbeing, York has a strong portfolio of research addressing the challenges of mental ill-health which aims to make a difference to care at all levels, from the local York and University communities, to national and international policy and practice.
Supporting our students is also a priority. Research into how to address the problem of mental ill-health amongst our students is a focus at the University. With your help we are also supporting our current students through the everyday pressures of university life. Students worry about finances, academic expectations and the need to have a CV that ‘stands out from the crowd’.
Although we can’t remove such stress altogether, major investment in on-campus counselling services and programmes helps. Here’s just a couple of the projects which support and encourage our students to take a balanced approach to their education, none of which would have been possible without your help.
Healthy Body Healthy Mind
On any given day you’ll find York Sports Village pulsing with the sound of music, weights and heartbeats, all working to a rhythm that aims to improve the health of anyone who sets foot inside the £9 million complex. Thanks to your generous donations, the Village is starting to be used by students who are not only improving their physical health, but their mental health as well.
The Healthy Body Healthy Mind programme is a partnership between York Sport and the University Open Door team that gives students with psychological and mental health difficulties the chance to use the York Sport facilities to improve wellbeing.
“The University environment and the demands and pressures of life in 2017 can generate a lot of anxiety and stress for our students, and they have found the programme helpful in managing stress and anxiety. This in turn has a positive impact on mood and emotional health, concentration, focus and academic engagement and success” Stuart Jackson-Bayles, Open Door Practitioner, told us. “Students are feeling the benefit of your support instantaneously.”
“I really feel that I have benefited from exercising and keeping fit. Not only has my self-esteem improved dramatically, but I have made new friends from attending a variety of classes,” one student said.
Mind Your Head
While some students find themselves improving mental health at the gym, others are sitting in libraries, labs or lecture theatres educating themselves on mental ill-health and raising awareness amongst students. Student Nicola Ashman used her YuFund grant to coordinate Mental Illness Awareness Week, a series of discussions on a wide range of mental illnesses that aimed to promote understanding, and reduce stigma, around mental ill-health.
In the grand scheme of things, £500 is not a lot of money, but to Nicola and the team at Mind Your Head, this money made a huge difference. It allowed them to attract guest speakers with personal experience, and organise research talks led by scientific and academic experts.
If you have donated to YuFund, you can feel proud that your donation may have allowed someone to recognise that they have a mental illness, and empowered them to take action to improve their wellbeing.