Mental health is an issue for all of us: we may all feel mental distress of one sort or another and some of us will experience mental ill-health. This chapter explores issues around mental health and ill-health relevant to the student community. It is informed by students' personal perspectives and concludes with the importance of the voluntary sector's role in tackling stigma and complementing campus-based services.
We all have mental health. If we take this statement on board it will play a crucial role in understanding the broader themes of this chapter and their implications for students. How do we understand mental health? The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998, p.1157) includes references for: 'mental', 'mental age', 'mental block', 'mental cruelty', 'mental defective', 'mental deficiency', 'mental handicap', 'mentalism', 'mentality', 'mentally handicapped', 'mental set', and 'mentation'. It does not have a reference for 'mental health'. If there is no clear definition for 'mental health' in a contemporary dictionary, how can we clarify what it is and what it represents? Without an easily accessible and clear definition, mental health remains intangible. The lack of 'visibility' of mental health is one of the most significant barriers to raising awareness and understanding among students and young people. At the beginning of the autumn semester or term, students can feel disorientated away from familiar surroundings, and under stress from new routines, coursework and the need to make friends. For many it is a time of fun and excitement, for others it can be daunting and