The BodyMind Approach® to Support Students in Higher Education: The Relationship Between Student Stress, Medically Unexplained Physical Symptoms and Mental Health
Using the UK as an example, students attending higher education providers (HEPs) increasingly suffer mental ill-health due to new stress factors. Relationships between stress, frequently co-occurring chronic medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) and mental health are explored as the basis for proposing The BodyMind Approach® (TBMA) as an innovative intervention, addressing the body and mind experience of MUS. Excessive stress can lead to/exacerbate, mental health difficulties and/or MUS (such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue/pain for which tests and scans are normal). MUS mostly affects women, non-native speakers and young people, all high numbers at HEPs. Students resist mental health services, and half in need do not disclose or seek help. TBMA, as an evidence-based, research-informed intervention, tested in the health service, is more accessible when framed as learning to self-manage symptom distress. Policymakers might consider this intervention to help improve student mental health as part of an institution-wide approach.