Mental Health in Higher Education: a decade of activity

The story of an interdisciplinary mental health learning and teaching project.


  1. Please note: Some of the earlier links in this story that require updating or removing. The story still stands, however. Please bear with us!
  2. 1. In the beginning . . .

    . . . there were few opportunities for mental health educators to network and to share ideas - with people in their own discipline, let alone those from other subject areas.

    The Mental Health in Higher Educationproject (mhhe) was set up in 2003. It aimed to enhance learning and teachingabout mental health - through increasing networking and the sharing ofapproaches, across the disciplines in UK higher education.

    mhhe set out to do this by linking academics, service user and carer educators, researchers, students and practitioners.

    Initially a one-year project, it caught awave of interest and funding and has continued.
    So how did mhhe begin?

    A two day meeting was held in York in 2002:
  3. An online discussion list was established (it continues to this day):
  4. One year's funding was obtained from the Learning and Teaching Support Network (the precursor to the Higher Education Academy) to establish a collaborative project on learning and teaching mental health. It was a partnership between the subject centres for Health Sciences and Practice; Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine; Social Policy and Social Work (SWAP) and Psychology. SWAP took the lead, with Jackie Rafferty and then Hilary Burgess chairing the advisory group.
  5. Jill Anderson was appointed as development worker - seconded from the University of Nottingham - and a website was developed by David Colombi - later built upon by ichameleon using treeline software.
  6. They designed a logo for us too:
  7. Later, Lynn Tang and Jill Anderson wrote about establishing the website. . .
  8. . . . but that is jumping ahead.

    2. Getting started: 2003-4

    One of the first tasks was to find out what the needs and views of mental health educators were, through a brief survey - the basis for an article in Mental Health Today.
  9. Our first event was held, at the Derby Dance Centre - Paying more than lip service: service user and carer involvement in learning and teaching about mental health. Peter Cambell was one of the speakers.
  10. An article resulted. . .
  11. . . . and then a good practice guide on involvement in education, developed in partnership with NIMHE West Midlands and the Trent Workforce Development Confederation:
  12. It was updated in 2011:
  13. Our second event was planned and delivered in collaboration with a group of Scottish Educators. 'Nobody knows as much as everybody' was held in Edinburgh in November 2003, and considered the range of ways in which mental health as a concept is understood and imparted:
  14. Our third and final national event, with a focus on interdisciplinary learning, was held in Bristol. Shula Ramon and Tina Coldham introduced it:
  15. A lot more happened that year. Educators wrote accounts of how mental health was taught within their disciplines. . .