top of page

News + Comment

Raising Awareness of Mental Health in Higher Education

Josephine NwaAmaka Bardi, mental health nurse and final year Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) mental health and wellbeing student who started the UK’s first student-led campaign to Raise Awareness of Mental Health in Higher Education has published The RAMHHE Research Activity Model; the first research model by a mental health nurse with the aim to explore the meaning and understanding of mental health among university students. Josephine states that as a mental health nurse, PhD student and lecturer, she is very concerned about the absence of a non-clinical pedagogical model for exploring the meaning and understanding of mental health among university students. The RAMHHE Research Activity Model has been published online ahead of print in Nurse Educator.

Josephine states that the RAMHHE Research Activity Model is an explorative student-centred pedagogical research model that utilises qualitative methods of interviews and focus group discussions to ask four questions including: (1) What is mental health? (2) Who would you speak to about your mental health? (3) How is mental health viewed in your community, and (4) How can we support students' mental health? The first question will provide an understanding of the student's definition of mental health and if it differs from the educator's definition; the second question will support a range of referral pathways for students. The third question is useful for understanding the varied meanings of mental health among students from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds because students may not seek help if their culture or religion does not recognize mental health. The final question encourages an all-university dialogue on how to support students with mental health conditions.


Regardless of the extensive data on the increasing number of students who report mental health, there remains scarcity in research models for exploring student’s views of mental health. Thus, due to these undisputable increase in the reports of mental health experiences among university students, The RAMHHE Research Activity Model makes a timely contribution to the existing literature on the mental health of university students. Mental health is not unique to only university students so Josephine adds that The RAMHHE Research Activity Model is a universal model that can be applied in all settings where people are seeking to explore the meaning and understanding of mental health.

Josephine stresses the need for provision of meaningful and participatory research activity for students as fundamental for enabling conversations about and around mental health among university students. The RAMHHE Research Activity aims to maximise the potential for non-hierarchical and collaborative dialogue between students and staff on the issue of mental health through a problem-based learning approach. More importantly, RAMHHE Research Activity will prompt a deeper understanding of the diverse mental health experiences among university students and prompt the development of ethically informed mental health policies with the aim to positively impact on student access, retention, attainment and progression outcomes. Simply put, Josephine adds that ‘we cannot understand the students understanding of mental health until we understand their misunderstanding.’

Research Process

to seek ethics approval from the ethics committee at the university when conducting research with the RAMHHE Research Activity Model because some educators might want to conduct the research to gather data for information purposes only. Therefore, ethical consideration will depend on how the data will be used. The RAMHHE Activity facilitator can include different data collection methods such as individual questions, interviews, focus group discussions, taking photographs of the students when they are working in groups and video recording the research process. When planning The RAMHHE Research Activity, it is important that the facilitator collaborates with all the stakeholders within the university including students, academic and non-academic staff to promote an all-university collective dialogue on mental health. There should be at least two people per activity so that they can support students who may become distressed, and to make the research process manageable.