Since 2017 the RIBA and the Architects Benevolent Society (ABS) have successfully collaborated on raising awareness about mental health issues within architectural education and practice. ABS launched a partnership with Anxiety UK in May 2017 to offer practical support for people experiencing anxiety, stress and anxiety based depression. In May 2017 and in March 2018 a student survey was sent to accredited schools in the United Kingdom on behalf of the RIBA. Just over 1200 students completed the survey in 2017 and over 900 in 2018 pointing to the scale of the issue and the interest that students have in their mental wellbeing. The survey was based on a similar National Union of Student survey questionnaire conducted in 2013 and undertaken again in 2018.
The results of the survey have formed the basis of a student dissertation project run in collaboration with the University of Sheffield master’s course. Supervised by Satwinder Samra, Melissa Kirkpatrick is a Master’s student whose dissertation project aims to analyse the survey’s results and report on them in October 2018. Expected outcomes of the dissertation research project will be to define the scale of the issue, contextualise the issue in relation to wider academia and establish further avenues for research.
Simeon Shtebunaev, RIBA co-Vice-President for Students and Associates said: ‘My personal experience of architectural education triggered mental health issues that I did not realise were there before. Whilst I was supported in my education, I truly believe we need to aim to understand why architectural education is such a stressful degree and how can we counter-balance and reduce that stress. I am encouraged by the support of RIBA and ABS.’
The dissertation project is financially supported by the Architects Benevolent Society. The ABS has championed Mental Health understanding within the profession.
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