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New report calls for universities to start tracking the well-being of their staff

  • 9 May 2019

Measuring well-being in higher education (HEPI Policy Note 13) by Rachel Hewitt, Director of Policy and Advocacy at HEPI, highlights the need to distinguish between mental health and well-being and calls for more comprehensive data to be made available on the well-being of all those work and study at universities. This new analysis reviews the availability of current well-being information on the higher education sector.

The paper argues:

  • The conflation of mental health and well-being is not helpful for tackling either low levels of well-being or supporting those suffering mental ill-health,
  • We therefore need to collect data on both well-being and mental health separately,
  • We need to collect more comprehensive information on the well-being of those who work and study in UK universities. The lack of any information on staff well-being should be tackled urgently. Consistent information should be collected on applicants, students and graduates, so we can better understand the impact that the university experience has on the well-being of individuals.

Rachel Hewitt said

‘If we are to get a grip on the mental health crisis in young people that is heavily impacting on universities, we need to be collecting the right information to understand it. At the moment statistics on well-being and mental health are often combined, despite these being two separate issues with different ways they can be tackled. For universities to take the necessary action to address this issue, they need to better understand what they’re dealing with. 

It is shocking that we have no public information on the well-being of staff that work in our universities. If universities are collecting this information, they are not being open about what the results are showing. This is at a time when staff in universities continue to be under pressure, with increasing workloads and insecure contracts rife. We need a consistent, public dataset on the well-being of university staff.’

Notes for Editors

The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) was established in 2002 to influence the higher education debate with evidence.  We are UK-wide, independent and non-partisan. We are funded by organisations and universities that wish to see a vibrant higher education debate as well as through our own events.

1 comment

  1. Gillian Cardy says:

    I couldn’t agree more. As a newcomer I encounter behaviours that amaze me, but cannot judge whether this is normal or I am an outlier. Wellbeing is indeed different to mental health, although even after only two terms on HE I can attest that if my wellbeing is affronted on a weekly basis by excessive stress which is disregarded by line managers, a transfer into a mental health statistic is almost inevitable. Maybe they’ll care then …

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