The SEJ and the ‘Stepchange- mentally healthy universities’ framework’

The Universities UK has published ‘A Student mental wellbeing in Higher Education: a good
practice guide ‘in 2015 where there is list of recommendations:

They have since updated this guide in a new format called ‘Stepchange: mentally healthy
universities’ as a refreshed strategic framework for a whole university approach to mental
health and wellbeing at universities.

Here we share with you some of the highlights from their Summary of Recommendations
from the original comprehensive guide and show how the SEJ Process is THE solution in
addressing these points.

“6. It is recommended that institutions have a wide range of policies available to cover
the diverse needs of their students, in order to support their progress through
their course as effectively as possible…”

The SEJ process is a holistic and inclusive tool for each unique individual. It is taught to each
student for them to apply to their own thoughts believed. It encourages them to not only
question their thoughts but more widely to foster the ownership and responsibility for their
own way of living and managing their lives. Often times HEIs struggle to manage in meeting
the needs of the diverse range of student population. By giving the students the tools to
manage their own lives not only does the SEJ process empower the individual student, but it
also frees the HEIs to focus their limited resources to more serious cases.

“7. Institutions should consider the applicability and implications of their student mental
health-related policies and procedures in respect of arrangements with collaborative and
other partners such as further education colleges, placement providers, schools, and
employers. They should also consider opportunities for joint action with partner institutions
and bodies.”

The SEJ Process will bring forth cohesion and inclusion between the educational setting and
their collaborative partners in a holistic and student-centred approach to the wellbeing of
each individual. The SEJ offers immediate benefits and engages the student in that it
empowers them to take responsibility for their own wellbeing. One of the challenges facing
the HEs in supporting the vulnerable young people is that the external agencies do not
consider them to be of child’s age yet are too young to be treated as ‘adults’ due to their
relative inexperience in managing their own lives.

Furthermore, even though the student may declare previously diagnosed mental health
illness at the point of application to study at an HEI each University may assess these cases
against their own policies and procedures. This leads to unnecessary delay with sometimes
severe consequences to the student such as delay in having the crucial support such as note
taking, extra time during examinations, which may compound affecting their already
vulnerable mental health.

  1. Consideration should be given to making training on mental health awareness
    and the protocols for reporting concerns available to all relevant staff. This
    includes academic and related departments, service and support areas, frontline
    and auxiliary staff, personal tutors, house/hall tutors and departmental disability
    officers. Such training could be cascaded to staff who have a front-line role
    including cleaners, canteen, and library staff, whether they are permanent,
    contract or agency staff.

    The SEJ process will enable all staff as well as the students to become aware at early stages
    by examining their own perception, thereby preventing the escalation into more serious
    illness. It is not enough to be aware of the mental health issues they all need tools/process
    to address them. Reporting concerns or sign posting works well if the HEIs have good quality
    support services readily and timely available to students (and staff). Sadly this is not the
    case as noted in recent news. Not only this is a challenge but the students themselves do
    not come forward for fear of having the declared illness in their records or simply because
    of the stigma attached to mental health concerns.

    HEIs do not have to address these challenges if we equip young people with the skills and
    tools to manage themselves when the issues arise, they do not need to wait for half the
    term to be seen, nor they don’t even need anyone else to help them.

    If the HEIs are not able to offer the necessary support these students require (due to
    shortage of staff, lack of suitable support structure, lack of trained staff etc), then they have
    the duty of care to refer the students to external agencies e.g. GPs, counselling. Even
    students who require already declared disability conditions that have financial support in
    place are frequently waiting several weeks just to be assessed. The simple yet powerful and
    innovative SEJ Process can be taught to these vulnerable young people as a life-long skill and
    tool to empower themselves. There is nothing more empowering to them than giving the
    knowledge that they have the power to solve their own problems and the solution focussed
    tool of the SEJ will deliver this to them easily and effectively in a relatively short space of

    The Stepchange states that “The whole university approach recommends that all aspects of
    university life promote and support student and staff mental health”. In educating,
    supporting, and enabling students and staff, with the transferable life skill such as the SEJ
    Process, together we can address this issue easily, holistically, and proactively.

    Dr M Howard-Kishi

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