Over the past 10 years there's been a fivefold increase in the number of students who disclose a mental health condition to their university. Furthermore, the number of university students seeking mental health support increased by more than 50% in five years from 50,900 to 78,100 between 2012 and 2017.
Nursing students face a unique challenge and prevalence of stress is very high according to several reports. Nursing students are at a high risk of mental health deterioration due to; financial, social, academic and clinical factors. Nursing students are also often older than students studying other degrees and more frequently have caring responsibilities to contend with during their degree. This blend of factors is quite unique to the programme. Apart from the personal impact, student nurse experience of stress can also result in students experiencing inefficient clinical placements thus decreasing the quality of the healthcare service they can offer to patients and their development as a practitioner.
We are applying for funding to pilot a student nurse mental health peer support network. To accomplish this, we would like to seek funding to train ’20’ nursing students to become Mental Health First Aid First Aiders. Students who undertake this training will then take on the role of ‘mental health champion’ for the duration of their 3-year course.
There are approximately 500 nursing students who enrol at QUB each year and our vision is that one ‘mental health champion’ would be positioned in every tutorial group in year one so as to facilitate support of nursing students over their 3-year programme. The MHFA course increases mental health awareness and will give students the skills necessary to have a non-judgmental conversation, recognise the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues and effectively guide a person towards the right mental health support.