Tapestry: A conversation about embedding mental wellbeing in higher education

In 2017, the Higher Education Academy (AdvanceHE) produced a document ‘Embedding mental wellbeing in the curriculum: maximising success in higher education’. The impetus for this report was the growing concerns of the mental health and overall wellbeing of the student within higher education. It was a report outlining a way forward; providing a holistic approach that complimented existing student support services while embedding mental wellbeing into the core of the curriculum. In short, suggesting that the responsibility for mental wellbeing of the student is an integral part of the teaching practice. It also notes that the success of the learner is contingent on ensuring the wellbeing of the educator.

In 2019, mental health and wellbeing remains on the political and educational agendas within higher education for both the learner and educator. University fees continue to be a source of political debate, contributing to an ever-changing landscape within higher education. Consolidation, elimination of course programmes, demands for higher workloads and staff redundancies all contribute to the feeling of uncertainty for the leaner, the academic staff and the university. All of the above bring their own issues so it is vital that there is a more in-depth conversation around the mental health and wellbeing both of the learner and the educator.

My journey thus far, as a second year education doctoral student and counselling lecturer at UWTSD, has been about exploring themes that speak to connection, collaboration and shared responsibility within the learner’s and educator’s experience. All of this would appear to suggest that the quality of the relationship between the learner and the educator matters for maximising success within learning and teaching practice. It is a tapestry of human knowledge ‘reciprocating experiences, ideas, values and insight’ (Robinson 2018). Perhaps it is in the exploration and deeper understanding of this tapestry that will provide insights into embedding mental health and wellbeing into the curriculum.