University of Birmingham

20 May 2024

University of Birmingham

University of Birmingham is one of the leading public universities in the UK, educating approximately 40,000 students across undergraduate, postgraduate, Doctoral researchers and many more cohorts, studying on campus, studying abroad and on placement. A part of the prestigious Russell Group of Universities, the University of Birmingham have made a commitment to improving the lives of their students, with a particular focus on their mental health and wellbeing.

The Challenge

In recent years, the university arranged a drop-in mental health clinic for the students on campus, which quickly made them realise that students value accessible mental health services. Further feedback from students informed the university that physically going to a different part of campus that might have been new or unknown to them had some stigma attached and caused stress and anxiety for the student seeking support. This led the university to realise that they were not able to fulfil their duty of care for the entire population through having limited access points to these mental health supports.

The Solution

This is where the University of Birmingham partnered with Spectrum.Life for their Student Assistance Programme (SAP). The goal was to ensure all students can access the supports they need, whenever they need them, reducing barriers to accessing services and reaching their entire student population. The complex, global organisation needed a menu of services that catered for students under the age of 18, over 50’s, those studying on campus, distance learners and those who do block weekend study, and everyone in between. This meant access to mental health supports outside of the standard 9-5 office hours was critical for ensuring all students felt part of the supported community.

The Spectrum.Life Platform and App has become a core part of the support programme University of Birmingham offers for their students. With thousands of students accessing the self-help resources on topics including managing work- life balance, looking after yourself and your family throughout your studies, to the physical and nutritional supports, it has become an invaluable solution that caters for all types of students. It is a whole package approach, for the whole student population.

The Impact

The University of Birmingham have an ‘Institution of Student Wellbeing Survey’ open to the entire student community, where the feedback was unanimously positive, by both service users and those who were aware of the service through recommendations from their peers who have engaged with Spectrum.Life’s SAP. The university has also seen an increased number of disclosures due to the destigmatisation within the university around reaching out for mental health support, which the university have admitted they would find challenging to manage without the  additional resourcing of counsellors that Spectrum.Life provide.

Students at the university have also reported the case management team of counsellors to be incredibly empathetic, with positive feedback around a range of complex challenges that they had been experiencing.

Impact statements

The in-the-moment support that Spectrum.Life offers has been invaluable.

Students really value accessibility of emotional and mental health services, and the inclusivity of being able to access them on their terms by methods they choose,

Drew Linforth, Assistant Director of Student Services.

The online offering became the focus of destigmatisation because of its accessibility.