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For over a decade UMO has provided specialist mental health mentoring for students from all backgrounds and evidence-based research has shown the improved academic and social outcomes this form of intervention brings.
At the same time, it is increasingly well documented that Diverse Ethnicity students with mental health conditions are at increased risk of non-disclosure, dropping-out and lower attainment than their white peers. Amongst Diverse Ethnicity students, black students are at most risk, with only three-quarters progressing beyond their first year, and of those that graduate only half achieve 1st or upper second class degrees.
UMO understands that in order to best support Diverse Ethnicity students with mental health conditions, a tailored, culturally sensitive approach to mentoring is required, and has developed a specific intervention for this group of students that reflects their particular context, needs and challenges.
The UMO approach to mentoring identifies barriers to Diverse Ethnicity students succeeding which include: the transition to university, obtaining a sense of belonging within the university environment, managing family expectations, poor access to students support services and collaboration with other student groups. In identifying these barriers the UMO mentor works with the student to implement strategies that allows them to better manage their emotional state and wellbeing, separate out experiences that are personal rather than specific to their institution, improve time and workload management, and overall improve their university academic and social experience.
Integral to the success of Diverse Ethnicity mentoring is providing students, should they wish, with a mentor from the same, or similar, ethnic and cultural background who will be well placed to understand the reference points for the individual student. The UMO workforce is hugely diverse, highly qualified and well placed to support all Diverse Ethnicity students.
UMO is currently running several early-intervention pilot projects with HEIs on a programme of mentoring for those Diverse Ethnicity students in need of support but who may not qualify for specialist mentoring under DSA criteria or who may not seek out other forms of support such as counselling. These evidence-based pilot projects are already yielding positive results in terms of students being better able to cope with the demands of university life, improved focus and attitude toward studies, improved attainment and confidence about future prospects beyond university.
UMO’s reflective approach to mentoring and ongoing service evaluation from students and support service teams means we constantly review and improve best practice. UMO collaborates widely within the mental health ecosystem and beyond and welcomes opportunities to work with others on improving outcomes for Diverse Ethnicity students.
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