Faith and Spirituality
in Students' Mental Health
University life at its best opens up a whole new world of ideas, brings new perspectives, and calls students beyond their past experience. Not least, in the UK, for most undergraduates going to university involves moving home and living independently for the first time. This chapter reflects on some aspects of the influence of belief and spirituality on students' mental well-being and illness. The contribution of university chaplaincy to helping students manage their mental health and to recover from illness is discussed from the author's perspective of Anglican chaplaincy at the University of Hull.
Chaplaincy services vary from one Higher Education Institute (HEI) to another, according to the nature of the institution (some universities are secular by statute, others are Christian in foundation) and the local history of chaplaincy. Chaplaincy may be part of the student services department, seen primarily as a welfare service. It may be focused on the student union and be viewed as mainly for students. Although this chapter is about students, the model adopted at Hull was that chaplains were a resource for the whole institution, available to all in the university: staff, students and non-academic staff alike. We were well staffed with full-time Anglican and Catholic chaplains, and part-time chaplains from other denominations. Chaplaincy was integrated into University structures through the Religious Activities Committee which dealt with all matters of religion and