Proactively supporting PBSA employees’ mental health

Supporting the mental health of PBSA staff and the students they look after is vital - and PBSA operators are recognising its importance.

LIV Sheffield PBSA reception and library - ourHRpeople | PBSA News
LIV Sheffield PBSA reception and library.

The current pandemic is having an impact on the mental health and wellbeing of staff across the purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) sector, and the students that they look after. PBSA operators have acknowledged the importance of supporting students with their mental health and many are now investing in staff wellbeing.

The UK based Centre of Mental Health reported that mental wellbeing problems at work cost the county’s economy £34.9bn last year. One in five working people have mental ill health and it’s estimated that 70m working days per year are lost due to this. With the current pandemic causing the UK to lock down multiple times, the impact is projected to increase these numbers. The Chancellor has recognised this and has put aside around £500m for a rise in mental health problems in the recent spending review.

“Employees spend as much time with colleagues as they do at home. But with work and home now becoming merged together in a world of online conference calls, many staff have had no physical contact in the office with their colleagues for the best part of a year. It is bound to have an effect.

“Whilst the lack of a daily commute may be a blessed relief for some, the boundaries between work and homelife are becoming ever more blurred as an over-emphasis on agile working becomes the new normal.”

 Jackie Hudson, Chartered FCIPD, Director, ourHRpeople 

One PBSA employer – LIV Student – has recognised the importance of recognising mental health problems. LIV are rolling out accredited Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Courses to their residence staff – equipping them with the skills they need to support their own and their students’ wellbeing.

“The MHFA course empowers staff to notice signs of mental ill health, encourages them to break down barriers, to listen in a non-judgemental way, and signpost to support for recovery. Staff will become more confident in having conversations around mental health and provide support and care until professional help is found.” 

Wendy Garrett, Garrett Learning

Elizabeth Hampson, Deloitte Director and Author of Mental Health and Employers cites recent studies that find a higher prevalence of mental health problems among younger people, ‘who are emerging as the most vulnerable for poor mental health’.

Dr Amy Bradley, Faculty Member at Hult Ashridge Executive Education identifies ‘suffering overspill’, which is caused by the difficulties faced at home, which ultimately and inevitably affects work. This makes it even more critical that PBSA employers look to support their staff in the workplace, and that employees have been sufficiently trained.

One specialist supplier who provides an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to employees and students (Student Support & Wellbeing Service) is Life & Progress. 

“For a modest annual investment all your employees and students are able to access help and guidance from professionals around-the-clock via telephone and online 24/7, and there is no limit to the number of issues your students/employees can gain support on.” 

Dominic Grainger, Account Manager, Life & Progress

Advice and guidance on supporting PBSA employees

  • ourHRpeople: A UK based Human Resources consultancy providing professional HR and employment law services. Email:
  • Garret Learning: Wendy Garrett is qualified as a Mental Health First Aid Instructor with Mental Health England.
  • Life & Progress: Life & Progress is a proactive provider of modern Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) and related mental health support services. Email Dominic Grainger: rates are offered to ourHRpeople customers. Please mention PBSA News when calling.