Student mental health to benefit from new research network

A new network aiming to boost research into the mental health of students in Scotland has been launched.

The Scottish Student Mental Health Research Network (ScotSMART) aims to bring together expert knowledge to help Scottish universities develop and coordinate projects to improve the current support in place for students.

ScotSMART will provide a hub for academics and practitioners to address a range of topics and share findings and data across several Scottish institutions. It will be based at the University of Edinburgh and will include researchers from Glasgow University and the University of Strathclyde, as well as student advisory group Think Positive. Working alongside other mental health services already available in the UK, it plans to cover themes such as loneliness and social relationships as well as the stigma surrounding mental health.

The network was 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, and received the Arts & Humanities Network award grant from the royal society of Edinburgh.

Dr Long highlighted the importance of the network: “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 will develop initiatives to share ideas and key research themes, with plans to include a website, podcasts and events aimed at improving the support available for students.

ScotSMART will collate and explore the areas of research in mental health and wellbeing for students such as postgraduate mental health, widening access and participation, and neurodiversity.

Project lead Dr Gardani, of the school of Health and Social Sciences at Edinburgh, said of the project: “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.”