PGR Wellbeing4All Project

PGR Wellbeing4All Project

Postgraduate research student mental health

There is an ever increasing interest and understanding of the wellbeing and mental health of undergraduate students in higher education (HE). However, there is less of an understanding of the mental health issues faced by postgraduate research (PGR) students and how institutions can meet their needs. In 2018 a report by Vitae highlighted a number of risk factors relating to the mental health and wellbeing of PGR students, along with outlining the challenges institutions face and the effectiveness of support provisions. As a result of the Vitae report, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Catalyst Fund allocated £1.5 million across 17 projects aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing support for PGR students. The scheme is being delivered by the Office for Students (OfS) as a joint initiative with Research England.

PGR Wellbeing4All: tackling inequality, improving wellbeing

PGR Wellbeing4All is one of the 17 HEFCE Catalyst funded projects and is investigating the mental health and wellbeing of PGR students at Newcastle University, and has a focus on equality, diversity and inclusion. In particular, we are looking to explore the potential mental health and wellbeing issues faced by individuals from diverse backgrounds when undertaking a PGR degree, with a long-term view to informing the development of fully inclusive mental health and wellbeing interventions for PGR students at both Newcastle University and across the HE sector. The research findings from this project, and each of the other Catalyst projects, will be passed to OfS, Universities UK (UUK), and Vitae who will collate and produce the final report that will be available nationally.

Project aims:

• To identify the factors impacting the mental wellbeing of PGR students from diverse backgrounds and Newcastle University’s PGR community as a whole;
• To transform and enhance current approaches to PGR student experience at Newcastle University by addressing equality and inclusion-related barriers to mental wellbeing;
• To reduce stigma associated with mental health issues by normalising a preventative approach, thereby fostering culture change in the rising generation of academics;
• To identify, develop, and embed sustainable policies and practices that ensure a whole-University approach is taken to address the complex wellbeing needs of our diverse PGR student community.

Get involved: in line with meeting the aims of the project, we need the support of our PGR student community and have a number of initiatives to engage with:

PGR student? Have your say – we are looking to hear from PGR students from diverse and minority groups about the factors that have impacted their mental wellbeing while undertaking a PGR degree. If you are a PGR student and would like to take part in our research to express your views on this topic, please complete our online expression of interest form or email PGRWellbeing4All@newcastle.ac.uk.

PGR Community – embarking on a research degree is a challenging experience that can lead to feelings of isolation, particularly for students new to the UK or the University. With this in mind, we have established as a PGR Community that will host informal events throughout the coming months to allow PGR students to come together to discuss everything from missing home or financial concerns, to methodology and research. Email pgrcommunity@newcastle.ac.uk for more information.

If you have any questions about the project, would like to get involved, or would like further information, please contact PGRWellbeing4All@newcastle.ac.uk. Alternatively, you can email Paul Britton (Project Manager and Research Lead) at paul.britton@newcastle.ac.uk.

Mental health and wellbeing support for existing PGR students

If you are a current PGR student, we understand that undertaking a PGR degree is extremely rewarding but also challenging. With this in mind, the University has introduced the Postgraduate Assistance Programme (PGAP) to provide mental health and wellbeing support for PGR and PGT students, should they require it - Find out more.