Students from across the UK are clubbing together to combat the university mental health crisis.
In an initiative started by students’ emotional fitness app Fika, more than 400 students from more than 50 UK universities have joined a network to proactively learn how to safeguard their own and their peers’ mental health.
Following specialist plans from psychologists via the Fika app, they will learn how to cope with freshers’ week, how to focus and relax, how to manage the transition into a shared uni house, make new friends, cope with independence, sleep better, deal with homesickness, and navigate new challenges at university.
They will then take on the role of Fika ‘emotional fitness’ ambassadors at their universities – supporting their peers and helping to create a positive environment where every student can flourish.
Lucy Evans, one of the students in the Fika network, who is about to start at the University of Sussex, said: “As a person who has sadly suffered with severe mental illness in the past, the proactive aspect of this initiative really attracted me. I looked into Fika and what it was all about, and I loved the message. I want to get involved with mental health work when I start uni, and Fika’s network fit the bill perfectly.”
Macca Hayward, another Fika ambassador from the University of Bristol, said: “Fika’s emotional workouts have really helped me explore myself and develop a better understanding of who I am. I love the way Fika highlights positive aspects of wellbeing and can be used as a tool for personal development. It’s such a refreshing narrative and one that I am extremely excited to spread.”
New data released this week revealed many UK universities are operating “in a fog”, with poor visibility of student mental illness across their campuses – and with students waiting as long as three months for mental health support.
Fika Co-Founder and CEO Nick Bennett said: “University life comes with its own challenges, and more and more students have called on us to bring Fika to their university. We hope this UK-wide, student-led initiative will have the significant impact we intend – reducing the crisis of poor student mental health, and contributing to a healthier, happier generation of university students.”
Students from universities including Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, Glasgow, Leeds, LSE, Loughborough, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford, Warwick, York and many more have already signed up to be part of the Fika Ambassador network.
Fika is planning to appoint 1,000 emotional fitness ambassadors by the end of September, across all 167 universities in the UK.
The Fika app is designed specifically for university students, with input from psychologists, academics and experts in human-computer interaction. The app helps students build resilience, confidence, positive thinking and relationship skills – allowing them to connect better with each other and protecting them from susceptibility to mental illness at university. Fika offers more than 65 emotional workouts to help students make the most of everything university has to offer, as well as boosting their focus, academic performance and employability.
Fika initially launched in February 2019, and has a growing list of university partners including Bath Spa University, the University of Exeter, the University of Hertfordshire, the University of Lincoln, London Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University, Middlesex University and the University of South Wales.
Fika will continue to offer whole-university partnerships, but will soon be making its app available to any UK student.