Universities in the region have denounced the method used to compile the rankings, saying they do not believe it gives a complete and accurate picture of a sensitive and complex subject.
A new university ranking for mental health and student support has been released.
Universities were ranked according to five criteria: satisfaction, commitment, awareness, funding and delivery.
However, Greater Manchester Universities have denounced the way the league table has been drawn up and warned against reading too much into it, while stressing that the mental health of students remains a top priority. Humen has since responded to the allegations.
What does the Greater Manchester University League Table show?
Of the three city-region universities included in the league table, MMU was the highest at 25th place.
Overall, it scored 53.1, with service delivery rated excellent, satisfaction rated average, and the other three criteria rated poor.
Humen rated it excellent on procurement, poor on funding, and very poor on satisfaction, engagement and awareness.
It was rated excellent for engagement, good for satisfaction and awareness, average for funding, and very poor for supply.
How was the ranking table put together?
Humen surveyed a sample of just over 7,000 students across the country for their views on mental health where they were studying and also sent Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to universities. .
In terms of criteria, satisfaction measured how satisfied students were with the overall level of mental health support and the quality of mental health services.
Engagement included the proportion of students who would use university services, while awareness explored the number of students who knew where to find help at university.
Funding looked at how much money universities were spending on mental health, including per-student budgets, and provisions included staff training, designated staff for mental health issues, and wait times for access services.
Humen is a charity that focuses on men’s mental health as it says the majority of people who commit suicide are men and it is the biggest killer of men under 45.
The charity is urging universities to support student mental health as suicide is the biggest killer of under-35s in the country and there have been a number of high-profile tragedies involving students who suicides in universities during the pandemic.
What did Humen say about the ranking?
Human says it believes its findings show there is a general lack of mental health support for university students in general. It urges institutions, especially those lower in the rankings, to get in touch to discuss measures to help students, including rolling out its Humen space, an anonymous, non-clinical safe space for men to talk, d listen and connect.
The mental health charity says the government should also do a lot more and called its recent mental health program insufficient.
Humen Founder, River Hawkins, said: “While it is encouraging to see a number of universities performing well in the Humen Mental Health University Rankings, all universities need to make immediate improvements, so that students are getting the essential care they need, especially during a national mental health crisis. following the pandemic.
“We want universities and students to value mental health support just as much as they value academic achievement.
“In addition to providing universities with expert advice on the support structures students desperately need, Humen is committed to opening 100 Humen Spaces over the next five years in college towns to provide an anonymous and safe for young people.
“Humen is also disappointed with the government’s mental health scheme which costs around £1 per pupil and wouldn’t even buy a cup of coffee – the budget should actually be £100 per pupil.
“Humen urges the government to take this seriously, rather than insulting the families of students who have committed suicide.”
What have the universities said?
The universities of Manchester and Salford in the league table highlighted student mental health and wellbeing as top priorities and outlined some of the work being done.
However, Humen and his approach to collecting the numbers on which the ranking is based have also been heavily criticized.
A University of Manchester spokesperson said: “The health and well-being of our students is our top priority and we are investing heavily in services to support them.
“While we welcome conversations about how to improve this support, we have serious concerns about how this league table has been compiled, based on a limited freedom of information request and a survey of a tiny proportion of students. The organizers told us that we could no longer access the methodology before its publication, unless we paid a fee.
“This is a complex subject, and student mental health is not an appropriate topic for rankings. Unfortunately, the approach taken by this organization was inappropriate and with minimal discussion with universities prior to publication.
A Manchester Metropolitan University spokesperson said: “The safety and well-being of our students is always our top priority at Manchester Metropolitan University.
“Our counselling, wellness and mental health team has extensive expertise and offers a variety of therapies for many mental health issues, ranging from counseling to specialist therapies for the effects of trauma and addiction-related difficulties. .
“Students with complex mental health needs can also be referred directly to the Universities of Greater Manchester NHS Student Mental Health Service.
“This is a unique partnership between Greater Manchester’s five higher education institutions, supported by GM Health and Social Care’s clinical commissioning and partnership groups.
“He was recently identified as an example by the government and the aim of the service is to provide proactive mental health assessment, support and interventions for students.”
A University of Salford spokesperson said: “The health and well-being of our students is our top priority at the University of Salford. We carefully monitor and respond to the well-being of our 25,000 strong student community and ensure that the support we provide is tailored to their needs.
“Our wide range of services includes a student helpline which provides mental and emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
“The hotline is staffed by trained and experienced counselors and is just one of many systems we have in place to support our students.
“We have also partnered with other higher education institutions in Greater Manchester, the local authority and the NHS to provide and fund a pioneering student mental health service for students with special challenges who may present higher risks.
“We appreciate all feedback on the support we provide to our students, but we have serious concerns about the accuracy of the data and methodology used to compile the Humen League Table; with only a very small survey sample used to represent the student population of 80 universities, the data is far from robust.
“Student mental health is a complex subject and as such is not an appropriate topic for league tables where the breadth and depth of the issues involved cannot be accurately reflected or understood.”
In response to the criticism, Humen fired back strongly and suggested there had been a misunderstanding.
Mr Hawkins said: ‘Humen conducted research across all UK universities with 10,000 or more students, with a survey sample of 7,200 students, matching other highly respected university rankings.
“Since the publication of the Humen University Mental Health League Table, the charity’s research, methodology, data, research questions and results are available to universities and HUMEN would never charge universities for access to that.
“The payment offer tied to a licensing package in which universities could receive the Humen University Mental Health League Table logo and rankings to promote on their marketing channels if they so choose.
“As a registered charity, Humen used the revenue from the licensing package to contribute to the significant cost of the detailed research project.”