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Mental Wellbeing

Education for Mental Health Toolkit - Introduction

Human functioning and wellbeing are intrinsically related to our surroundings, our activity and behaviour, the quality and quantity of our social connections and our understanding of ourselves and our relationship to the world (1-8).

Toolkit introduction

Human functioning and wellbeing are intrinsically related to our surroundings, our activity and behaviour, the quality and quantity of our social connections and our understanding of ourselves and our relationship to the world (1-8). As a consequence, every aspect of university life will have a potential impact on the wellbeing of students – whether considered and planned for or not. The curriculum is important to mental health and wellbeing because it is one of the few guaranteed points of contact between students and the university (9). The curriculum is central to the student experience (10) providing focus, structure, engagement, connection and purpose. If universities are to take mental health and wellbeing seriously, the role of the curriculum must be core to their response. 

Education for Mental Health

Download a digital copy of the full toolkit, the staff development toolkit and case studies.

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For this reason, the University Mental Health Charter (11) clearly places teaching, learning and assessment as central to any whole university approach to mental health and wellbeing.  While some have raised concerns that such a focus distorts the purpose of the curriculum, evidence in the literature clearly demonstrates a link between student mental health and wellbeing and student learning, persistence, creativity, problem solving, satisfaction and achievement (12). Students who experience poor mental health are more likely to withdraw, underperform and be dissatisfied with their learning and experience. On the other hand, positive wellbeing has been associated with better and deeper learning, higher levels of creativity and problem solving, higher achievement and better levels of student satisfaction.  

Research has also shown that how students are taught and assessed, and how they engage with learning, can have an impact on their wellbeing (11). For universities, there are then practical, financial and moral reasons to ensure that the curriculum is supporting good wellbeing and learning. 

This toolkit has been created to provide evidence informed guidance on the ways in which curriculum can support both wellbeing and learning. It has been developed for academic staff, academic managers, university leaders and all of those involved in the development and delivery of curriculum, within Higher Education. It is grounded in the research literature and has been created through research and co-creation with students, academics, Quality staff, Learning and Teaching staff and Principal Fellows of the HEA.  

This project was developed as a partnership between the University of Derby, King’s College London, Aston University, Student Minds and Advance HE. It was funded by the Office for Students via a Challenge Competition.

Please site this resource as: Hughes, G.; Upsher, R.; Nobili, A.; Kirkman, A.; Wilson, C.; Bowers-Brown, T.; Foster, J.; Bradley, S. and Byrom, N. (2022). Education for Mental Health. Online: Advance HE.

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