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Dr Nicola Eccles is Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing at Aspire, an eLearning platform supporting students, graduates and those in the workplace, with a focus on supporting disabled students in higher education.

This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is anxiety. In this conversation with Dr Nicola, we talk about why Aspire felt our 24/7, confidential text service could help support their mental wellbeing offering to students, including those who are experiencing feelings of anxiety and stress.

Aspire partnered with our Shout text service in 2021, offering students and graduates support via text message by texting the word ‘ASPIRE’ to 85258.

Why do you think your community needs anxiety support in particular at this time in their lives?

We are living in what has been classed as a ‘permacrisis’, launching from one crisis to another such as Brexit, the pandemic, the cost of living and energy crisis, the war in Ukraine, the impact of social media, marginalisation and so on. Modern life sometimes feels like it increases our susceptibility to mental health problems.

Depression and anxiety disorders have all become more common over the last 30 years, as have addiction, ADHD and autism. However, rather than always seeing ourselves as ‘broken’ we need to also appreciate that in many cases we actually have a functioning nervous system that is responding correctly to a society that is filled with crisis.

Despite increased numbers of individuals struggling with their mental health, external accessible support such as counselling services are not yet able to meet this need. The world is not changing anytime soon and so providing fast moving and responsive support that can be accessed easily by individuals is essential.

Partnering with Mental Health Innovations and gaining access to the Shout text support service offers exactly this type of support.

How do you use the partnership you have with MHI to help support your community even further with their mental health? 

Mental Health Innovations is built on digital and clinical expertise and is therefore able to provide reliable and current support. At Aspire, we can rely on this to ensure our approach and advice is grounded by research evidence and best practice. The partnership also offers us the ability to understand where the mental health crisis is going and how best to respond.

Shout gives us confidence that we are offering a service to our users that will support them in their times of crisis.


Dr Nicola Eccles, Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing at Aspire

Can you tell us why you partnered with Mental Health Innovations (MHI)? What were you hoping to provide your community?

Mental health is a moving target. Individuals need a range of support options that can be accessed in different ways and at different times. We wanted to provide our students and users with a current and research evidenced robust framework of strategies that can support their psychological wellbeing and MHI’s digital offering felt like a good addition.

What was it about the Shout text support service that appealed to you? What are some of the key benefits of having the service?

When someone is in a mental health crisis they can’t think outside of that critical and painful moment. There needs to be an accessible and immediate response. It needs to be easy for them and a text support service offers this - having digital support removes many of the barriers that students face when trying to access other services.

“Thank you for your help tonight. Your chat helped me to calm my thoughts and to think more rationally”

Anonymous Shout texter feedback around the issue of anxiety

If you’re interested in finding out more about how our Shout text service can help support the mental health of your organisation or community, get in touch below.