Fay, M and Skipper, Y (2022) “I was able to ask for help when I became stressed rather than sitting alone and struggling”: psychology and law students’ views of the impact of identity and community on mental wellbeing. The Law Teacher, 56 (1). pp. 20-36. ISSN 0306-9400

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People derive a sense of self from membership in social groups. Universities are an ecosystem of different communities and represent a significant opportunity to explore how group memberships can impact mental wellbeing. A key university group is students’ school of study, membership of which enables individuals to develop an academic identity. We argue that a strong sense of belonging and thus academic identity, within the school community can lead to positive mental wellbeing. We focus on sense of belonging within academic schools because the positive impact of group membership is likely to exist to a greater degree in an academic school than in other university communities. We conducted online focus groups with 21 undergraduate students studying either law or psychology at a research intensive university. Our aim was to explore their academic identity and sense of belonging within their academic school of study, and how these variables impacted their mental wellbeing. Our thematic analysis indicates that students with strong identities, who feel a sense of belonging in their school community – particularly where the basis of that community is peer-to-peer engagement – display greater help-seeking behaviours in times of difficulty. If peers are viewed negatively, students are less forthcoming when in need of support. Our results have important implications for Schools who can promote peer support as a way of improving student mental wellbeing.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final version of this accepted manuscript and all relevant information related to it, including copyrights, can be found on the publisher website.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Mental health; wellbeing; community; identity; higher education
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Law
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2022 11:55
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2022 09:37
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/10592

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