World Mental Health Day marks launch of Norwich student messaging programme, Unihealth

PUBLISHED: 06:00 10 October 2018 | UPDATED: 08:35 10 October 2018

Unihealth is aimed at helping students who are suffering with their mental health. Photo Getty Images

Unihealth is aimed at helping students who are suffering with their mental health. Photo Getty Images

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A Norwich company has chosen World Mental Health Day to officially launch the UK’s first social media messaging programme to combat the student mental health crisis.

Clare Bradshaw, the executive manager of Unihealth. Picture: UnihealthClare Bradshaw, the executive manager of Unihealth. Picture: Unihealth

Unihealth sends students messages via Facebook, with tips from how to cope better with academic stress, to money saving tips, and advice on living independently.

Clare Bradshaw, executive manager of Unihealth, said the company’s research showed that nearly a fifth of students had suicidal feelings, nearly half felt depressed and 82% had suffered stress and anxiety.

Yet three-quarters don’t seek help because they don’t know where to find it, were too embarrassed or thought it was a waste of time.

She said: “While social media has, rightly, come under the spotlight because of the potential negative effects it can have, research clearly shows it can be a great force for psychological good.

“Apps can be impersonal and risk being deleted as phones get full, but social media can provide a hammock of support when it’s most needed – and where it’s most likely to create that all-important sense of connection.

“Unihealth connects to students where we know they spend their time, using Facebook Messenger to deliver wellbeing advice and support, timed to walk the journey with them through their first year as they transition to university life.”

Unihealth also has a broadcast facility so that in the event of a localised issue such as a meningitis outbreak, it will react to reach all students with vital advice.

Ms Bradshaw added: “Reaching hard to reach students and monitoring the wellbeing of their students is a real challenge to universities. But they said Unihealth was a really useful tool to help them tackle those challenges which is why they decided to make it available to their students.”

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