A new network to boost research into student mental health and wellbeing in Scotland has been launched.
The Scottish Student Mental Health Research Network (ScotSMART) will bring together expert knowledge to help universities develop and co-ordinate research projects to improve current support for students.
ScotSMART will help students’ wellbeing by providing a hub for academics and practitioners to address a broad range of topics and share findings, experiences and data across Scottish Institutions.
Based at the University of Edinburgh, the network includes researchers from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde, as well as a student advisory group and Think Positive, a student mental health project hosted by National Union of Students Scotland.
Counselling services, mental health services and other UK student mental health networks will also be represented.
ScotSMART will bring together experts on themes including mental health, stigma around mental health, identity, loneliness, and social relationships.
The network will collate and explore the latest areas of research in student mental health and wellbeing such as postgraduate mental health, international student wellbeing, widening access and participation, and neurodiversity.
ScotSMART will create a thriving research network by including academics from a range of disciplines, and representatives from professional services, student bodies, support services and chaplaincies at universities across Scotland.
The network will develop initiatives to share ideas and research on key themes, including hosting a website, podcasts, blogs and events.
Leader of the project, Dr Maria Gardani at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Health and Social Sciences said: “There has been an urgent need for a research network that co-ordinates efforts and shares knowledge among researchers working on student mental health in Scotland. ScotSMART aims to bridge this gap and to facilitate knowledge exchange within and between the network and others stakeholders across the Scottish Higher Education sector.”
Dr Emily Long from the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, said: “Supporting the mental health of students is a key priority for higher education institutions and the support networks working within them. This new network offers a unique opportunity to advance our knowledge of student mental health, and make sure that we are collectively working toward sustainable, student-focused solutions.”
The network has been founded by Dr Maria Gardani, Dr Aja Murray and Dr Michelle O’Toole from the University of Edinburgh, Dr Nicola Cogan from the University of Strathclyde and Dr Emily Long from the University of Glasgow.
The team received an Arts & Humanities Network Award grant from the Royal Society of Edinburgh.