The University of Edinburgh has been ranked 61st in a league table that compares UK universities’ mental health services.
The table has been compiled by the mental health charity HUMEN and reflects the opinion of over 7200 students across the nation.
However, Student Minds, a UK charity which aims to improve the mental health of those in higher education, have released a statement criticising the table.
They expressed their concerns in a recent report that the study’s findings could be “misleading, harmful, and negatively impact student choice.”
HUMEN, who works to improve men’s mental health, began its study in May 2021 at the crux of the pandemic.
The organization explained they felt it was “vital” to carry out this study following the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
They explained that the lockdown has placed an “unprecedented additional burden” on the mental well-being of students in higher education and “reduced access to in-person support”.
A 2021 study by the UK mental health charity, Mind, found that “over one in three young people (34%) said that their mental health has got much worse during the pandemic”.
In a public press statement, HUMEN expressed hope the report will “raise awareness across universities on improvements that need to be achieved in order to ensure adequate mental health provision”.
The table compares UK universities across five different categories; satisfaction, engagement, awareness, financing and service provision.
For the University of Edinburgh, the table indicates that 47.8 percent of students are satisfied with the overall level of support provided by mental health services.
It suggests that only 49.8 percent of the university’s students would be willing to engage with these services. Moreover, only 57.8 percent know how to get the support they need.
These figures mean The University of Edinburgh has been rated “very poor” for engagement, awareness and satisfaction.
However, it received a “good” rating for service provision, suggesting there are sufficient numbers of staff who have received mental health training.
HUMEN utilised student surveys and data provided by various universities to compile this table. However, Student Minds have since questioned the accuracy of its methodology.
In a statement published online, they raised concerns that “HUMEN did not share their methodology from the outset”.
Student Minds added that “having now had a chance to review the methodology, we have multiple concerns, including that their sampling approach is flawed, that the metrics they developed are arbitrary and not grounded in evidence, and that the rankings fail to engage with decades of scholarship exploring student mental health.”
The organization argued that this doesn’t take into account “important factors, such as if the university is funding quality, student-appropriate services”.
The University of Edinburgh have echoed this report from Student Minds and disputed the league table.
A spokesperson from the University of Edinburgh told The Student:
“Supporting our students’ mental health and ensuring their safety and wellbeing is our absolute priority. We know that this has been a very challenging time for our students and we are continuing to invest in services to support them.
“The methodology used in compiling this ranking does not take into account the full range of health and wellbeing support we offer to our students, which is extensive. Mental health is a complex area and we question the claims resulting from this league table, which is based on a limited Freedom of Information request and a survey of a very small group of students.
“We regularly engage with our students to make them aware of the support we offer and to signpost them to additional sources of help. We listen to all views and encourage students to use our official reporting channels to help improve our mental health services.”
When contacted for a response to this criticism, River Hawkins, founder and CEO of HUMEN issued the following statement to The Student:
“This research was never intended to shame universities but to hold these institutions to account to ensure young people get the help they desperately need.”
“The student survey revealed that many young people are experiencing mental health difficulties and that many students feel unsupported by their university when it comes to accessing essential mental health services.
“In addition, all universities featured in the research had at least four months to respond to the FOI request which included an opportunity for universities to share their mental health budgets and insight on staff training and investment in mental health services.”
HUMEN have urged the universities featured in the league table to contact them “if they want to delve deeper into the results and understand their rankings”.