Student Mental Health: Responding to the Crisis

  • Tuesday, 05 May 2020
  • Mary Ward House Conference & Exhibition Centre, London
  • 08:30 - 16:35
Expert Speakers
Sponsors & Supporters
  • Overview

This conference will break-down the cultures, economic factors, social and institutional pressures contributing to dramatic rises in disclosures of mental health issues at universities and student suicides.

Delegates will explore why more students are turning to unconventional incomes like gambling and sex work during their studies, how the university experience can compound cultural and environmental conditions that lead students to access and supply drugs; and discussing how cross-institutional co-operation as well as legislative review of attitudes towards information sharing could prevent students reaching a point of crisis.   

Student Mental Health: Responding to the Crisis is our third national conference bringing together domestic and European HE institutes, students, academic/policy researchers, health, social care and counselling services to develop pragmatic approaches to:

  • Transitions of otherwise non-criminal student populations into drug use and supply created by financial instability, distance from guardians and the interconnected nature of student life.
  • Preventing student suicides; developing best practices in data sharing between institutions and families – measuring the importance of student safety and public interest against data protection, as well as investing in welfare support services and advanced planning.     
  • Isolation and instability created by increases in students engaging with sex work and gambling as a means of meeting the cost of university life.
  • Cultures of anxiety driven by transitions in curriculum and lifestyle, persecutory perfectionism, unrealistic expectations projected on new media platforms, institutional pressures and uncertainty around post-university employment opportunities.
  • Normalisation of competitive and insecure working cultures in the HE sector – how does this impact the human value of academic labour and the support available to young people struggling with their studies.      
  • Confirmed Speakers

Event Sponsors and Supporters

  • Event Programme


Registration and Coffee in the Networking Area


Chair's Opening Remarks and Keynote Address

  • Alan Percy, Head of Counselling, University of Oxford (confirmed)
"Chairing the Conflicted-Committee of Self"

Persecutory perfectionism is a blight on the mental health of students. In his presentation at November's conference, Alan Percy introduced delegates to his 'Committee Theory of Self'; a concept that positions the 'Self' as Chairperson of an unruly, conflicted committee that, unless appropriately disciplined, will be overrun by the dominant, persecutory voice of the 'dictator'. 

In the conference keynote, Alan, Head of Counselling at Oxford University and Visiting Professor in Psychology at Fudan University, Shanghai, will expand on his committee metaphor - discussing how the pursuit of a balanced, democratic resolution to marginalise the aggressive voice of the committee's persecutory 'dictator' is essential in improving student mental health.

  • Dr Leah Moyle, Lecturer, Royal Holloway University of London (confirmed)
"#Drugsforsale and Student Transitions into Drug Supply"

Dr Leah Moyle has worked on two research papers that spotlight the changing nature of drug markets, drug dealing and cultures of drug use amongst young people. Leah's articles '#Drugsforsale: An exploration of the use of social media and encrypted messaging apps to supply and access drugs' - the first academic investigation into mobile apps in drug markets - and 'Student transitions into drug supply: exploring the university as a risk environment' asses multiple factors in how young people access drugs; as well as how universities can compound cultural and environmental conditions that lead students to becoming drug users.


Leah's presentation will integrate findings from both papers, including:

  • How apps like WhatsApp, Instagram, Tinder and Snapchat are providing new, easier routes to supplying and accessing drugs at university.
  • How distance from guardians, the interconnected nature of student populace and financial insecurity can contribute to facilitating transitions of otherwise non-criminal populations into drug use and supply.     
  • Afua Acheampong, Vice President Education, Nottingham Trent Students Union (confirmed)
"BME Attainment: Research into BME Student Experience and the Effect that Racial Inequality has on Attainment and Mental Health"

White university students in the UK are, on average, more likely to leave university with a First or upper Second-Class degree than those of other ethnicities. This is referred to as the BME attainment gap. Afua Acheampong conducted research into the experiences of BME students at Nottingham Trent University and contrasted the results with the institutes existing data in order to develop an approach to addressing the gap. The research, comprised of 19 one-to-one interviews with BME undergraduate students, submissions from 98 academic representatives of mixed ethnicities, consultations with Nottingham Trent University staff and SU officers, as well as reviewing feedback from attendees of the NTSU's Black History Month event - informed a 23,000 word report, concluding with recommendations for the university to proactively tackle attainment issues. Afua's work has been made available to the university's governance in order to align it with the institute's Race Equality Charter and form an action plan.


This presentation will cover the findings from Afua's research project - exploring how the attainment gap impacts the mental health of BME students and propose recommendations to expand knowledge, strengthen representation and raise awareness of issues restricting BME attainment.    


At the Safeguarding Students: Addressing Mental Health Needs conference in Manchester, Megan offered insight into the benefits of utilising peer support as a means to tackle the growing demand for improving student wellbeing. In this presentation, Megan will build on her recent first hand experience of being a student and unpack the University culture and problems that can arise, such as peer pressure, bullying and cliques; attainment issues and isolation of minority groups. The presentation will also delve into the emotional pressures and stress that staff are under and how the use of screening can ensure students access the right support.


Question & Answer Session

  • Alan Percy, Head of Counselling, University of Oxford (confirmed)
  • Dr Leah Moyle, Lecturer, Royal Holloway University of London (confirmed)
  • Afua Acheampong, Vice President Education, Nottingham Trent Students Union (confirmed)
  • Megan Dreyer, Chief Executive Officer, #Me (confirmed)

Coffee in the Networking Area

  • Lee Fryatt, Inspector, Hampshire Constabulary (confirmed)
"Confidentiality & Consent - Measuring Data Protection Against Student Safety"

Lee Fryatt is an Inspector at Hampshire Constabulary with 30 years of operational experience, including responding to critical incidents, youth offending and police custody management. He has broad experience of responding to people suffering with mental health conditions who are at a point of crisis in their life. Lee’s family has been personally affected by the devastating impact of suicide, when in September 2018 his eldest son, Daniel ended his own life just after starting University.


Combining his professional capabilities and lived experience, Lee has developed a considered approach to the role of confidentiality and data sharing between universities and families based on the principle of public interest to protect outweighing institutional fears of breaching data sharing policies. This presentation will cover:

  • Thoughts around the Information Sharing element of the suicide prevention strategy for England and Article 8 of the European Court of Human Rights.
  • Adopting intelligence-driven attitudes towards prevention, informed by reality test plans. 
  • Transitioning to a system that supports students who are struggling academically - away from the current 'fitness-to-study' assessment model. 
"Student Sex Work: Exploring the Consequences of Stigma on Mental Health"

There is a lack of understanding about the experiences, motivations and needs of students in Higher Education (HE) who are also engaged in sex work. Aiming to fill this knowledge gap, The Student Sex Work Project carried out innovative action research with HE students which included psycho-social service delivery (online/face to face); and artistic dissemination through film. In this session we briefly present key project findings with a focus on student sex worker’s motivations and needs and using a film recreation of a student sex worker’s original testimony we encourage participants to adopt a bio-psycho-social lens to consider her thoughts and experiences. Engendering debate, we also discuss the negative impact of stigma on student sex workers.


Synopsis coming soon...


Case Study - Technology Supporting Mental Health and Wellbeing

This slot is reserved for organisations looking to engage delegates with services and opportunities that compliment conference presentation and discussion panel topics. If you're interested in delivering a Case Study, contact Jordan on 0161 376 9007.


Questions & Answer Session


Lunch in the Networking Area

A hot, two-course lunch consisting of multiple options will be provided for delegates. We cater for all dietary requirements, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten/dairy-free; just notify us ahead of time should you have any allergens or requirements.


Chair's Afternoon Address

  • Alan Percy, Head of Counselling, University of Oxford (confirmed)

Panel Discussion: Student-Lead Strategies for Improving Mental Health

Jessica Hyer, Founder, Support for Student Sex Workers (confirmed)

Wahida Ashiq, Founder, Great British Mag (confirmed)

Andrew Wilson, President, Edinburgh University Students Association (confirmed)

Annabelle Howard, Second Year Film and English Student, University of Bristol (confirmed) 


Afternoon Refreshment Break


Case Study - Eating Disorders

Synopsis coming soon...


Speaker TBC


Speaker TBC


Question & Answer Session


Chair's Closing Remarks and Conference Close

  • Register for event

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Luke Boulter
  • Gain 8 CPD Points.
  • Hear from FE/HE institutes, mental health service providers, public, voluntary and third sector organisations about steps being taken to improve mental health outcomes on campus.
  • Explore how wider determinants such as social media, withdrawal of student grants/education maintenance allowance, rising living costs and unaffordable housing contribute to mental health issues.
  • Learn how drug use impacts student MH - as well as assessing the immediate and long-term dangers of student's dealing drugs. 
  • Develop understanding of contemporary discussions taking place around student MH, such as the parity of esteem between data protection and human safety.
  • Explore data-driven initiatives utilising emerging technologies that are revolutionising institutional approaches to interventions.   
  • Discuss how to overcome barriers to care that are unique to FE/HE.
  • Network and knowledge-share with domestic and international peers, students, NHS service providers, stakeholders from public, voluntary and third sector organisations - developing shared solutions to common MH challenges in higher education. 
  • Explore legislative routes available to commissions and APPGs to develop policy responses to loneliness, isolation and financial instability at university.
  • Contact Details
  • Sponsors
  • Supporters
  • Venue
  • Featured Events
  • Downloads
  • Who will attend

Contact Details




Mary Ward House Conference & Exhibition Centre, London

Mary Ward House Conference & Exhibition Centre, London

In 2002 the building was placed on the Listed Buildings at Risk Register with the Mary Ward House trust having failed to secure lottery funding.

The building has been painstakingly renovated to ensure that this extremely important part of National Heritage continues to serve as a place of learning, knowledge dissemination and promotion of equality.

We are continually reinvesting in upgrading and renovating the building to ensure it continues to serve society through the advancement of education (by the establishment and maintenance of a Grade 1 Listed building/museum)

This objective directly enables us in; the advancement of the arts, culture, heritage and science; the relief of those in need by reason of youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage; the advancement of citizenship or community development

Featured Events

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    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • Contact us for venue
  • Mental Health: The Five Year Plan

    • 23 September 2015
    • 08:30 - 16:20
    • America Square Conference Centre, London
  • Mental Health: Better, Faster and Earlier Help

    • 04 March 2015
    • 08:30 - 16:45
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  • Children and Young People’s Mental Health: Promoting Integration and Early Intervention

    • 08 December 2016
    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • Manchester Conference Centre
  • Mental Health: Forward Thinking – Delivering the Strategy

    • 15 September 2016
    • 08:30 - 16:45
    • America Square Conference Centre, London
  • Mental Health: Moving Forwards – The Five Year Plan

    • 10 March 2016
    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • Manchester Conference Centre
  • Mental Health: Making the Forward Plans a Reality

    • 27 September 2017
    • 08:30 - 16:45
    • America Square Conference Centre, London
  • Children and Young People’s Mental Health: Taking Early Action

    • 06 July 2017
    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • The Royal National Hotel, London
  • Mental Health: Forward Thinking – The Implementation Plan

    • 16 March 2017
    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
  • Children and Young People's Mental Health: Improving Care, Treatment and Support

    • 12 December 2017
    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
  • Improving Mental Health Outcomes: Integrating, Coordinating and Transforming Services

    • 25 April 2018
    • 08:30 - 16:30
    • The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
  • Children and Young People's Mental Health: Providing Effective Support

    • 03 July 2018
    • 08:30 - 17:00
    • The Royal National Hotel, London
  • Meeting Mental Health Needs: Practical Interventions to Improve Services

    • 12 December 2018
    • 08:30 - 15:50
    • Mary Ward House Conference & Exhibition Centre, London
  • Children and Young People's Mental Health: From Early Intervention to Improved Services

    • 12 February 2019
    • 08:25 - 15:45
    • Mary Ward House Conference & Exhibition Centre, London
  • Improving Student Mental Health Outcomes

    • 16 May 2019
    • 10:00 - 16:05
    • Mary Ward House Conference & Exhibition Centre, London
  • Safeguarding Students: Addressing Mental Health Needs

    • 26 November 2019
    • 08:30 - 16:25
    • The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
  • Media & Mental Health: Delivering A Duty of Care

    • 16 June 2020
    • 09:30 - 16:10
    • The Studio, Manchester

Downloads & Resources

  • Open Forum Events Sponsorship Brochure
    Open Forum Events offer a number of partnership, sponsorship and exhibition opportunities that can meet your marketing and business development needs.

who will attend

  • Associate Heads of Student Experience
  • ASYE Coordinators
  • Audit and Assurance Consultants
  • Casework Managers
  • Clinical Placement Facilitators
  • Community Fundraising Officers
  • Counsellors
  • Deans
  • Directors of Graduate Taught Programmes
  • Directors of Graduate Taught Programmes
  • Directors of Undergraduate Programmes
  • Directors of Undergraduate Programmes
  • GPs
  • Head of Study Guidance Services
  • Heads of Faculty
  • Heads of Inclusive Student Support Services
  • Heads of Products and Partnerships
  • Heads of Programme Support
  • Heads of Student Services
  • Heads of Student Support