No Cover Image

Journal article 265 views 30 downloads

Understanding (in) formal health and wellbeing networks within higher education: a mixed-method social network perspective

Nils Joseph Swindell Orcid Logo, Jen Thomas, Jeremy Tree Orcid Logo, Denise Hill Orcid Logo, Joanne Hudson Orcid Logo, Gareth Stratton Orcid Logo

Higher Education, Volume: 2023

Swansea University Authors: Nils Joseph Swindell Orcid Logo, Jen Thomas, Jeremy Tree Orcid Logo, Denise Hill Orcid Logo, Joanne Hudson Orcid Logo, Gareth Stratton Orcid Logo

  • 65227.pdf

    PDF | Version of Record

    This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

    Download (1.22MB)

Abstract

In response to increasing concerns about the mental health and wellbeing of university students and staff, policy aims have shifted towards a ‘whole-university approach’ to mental health and wellbeing. This policy advocates for a culture wherein mental health and wellbeing are a key priority across...

Full description

Published in: Higher Education
ISSN: 0018-1560 1573-174X
Published: Springer Science and Business Media LLC 2023
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa65227
Tags: Add Tag
No Tags, Be the first to tag this record!
Abstract: In response to increasing concerns about the mental health and wellbeing of university students and staff, policy aims have shifted towards a ‘whole-university approach’ to mental health and wellbeing. This policy advocates for a culture wherein mental health and wellbeing are a key priority across all levels (individual, societal, environmental). Thereby, responsibility for mental health and wellbeing is distributed across the institution, requiring contributions from staff irrespective of whether mental health and wellbeing are central to their role. Consequently, boundaries of responsibility and expertise can be unclear, while individual and professional capacity and opportunity influence the consistency of support. Effective governance of the whole-university approach requires an understanding of the complex network of ‘actors’ in the wellbeing system to cohesively deliver strategic objectives. This mixed-methods case study of one Higher Education Institution (HEI) employed social network analysis (SNA) to identify network structures and connections between staff who promote mental health and wellbeing. Qualitative follow-up explored factors associated with network prominence, cohesion between the informal network and formal structures, and overall perceptions of the network. An informal network of 211 actors in the wellbeing system was identified, revealing disparities with formal governance structures. Prominence in the network was attributed to both extrinsic (e.g. workplace culture and leadership) and intrinsic (e.g. social rewards) factors, and was perceived to provide value by increasing cohesive and collaborative working. However, findings also indicate the need to raise awareness of the network and improve capacity for network membership and engagement.
Keywords: Mental Health, Wellbeing, Whole-university approach, StepChange, Social network analysis
College: Faculty of Science and Engineering