The new charter programme brings universities together to share practice and create cultural change.
Student and staff mental health has long been a key concern for UK universities. Even prior to COVID-19, the prevalence and complexity of difficulties reported by students was on the rise – and, in a HEPI survey, 58% of students say their mental health is worse than it was when the pandemic started.
Showing their commitment to tackling this issue, 32 universities across the UK have joined the new Student Minds University Mental Health Charter Programme, working to embed principles of good practice - including a commitment to providing effective support services, and to creating an environment that promotes good mental health for the whole university community.
Institutions can also work towards the Charter Award - an accreditation scheme that recognises excellent practice to support student and staff mental health.
Rosie Tressler OBE, CEO of Student Minds said:
“Now is the time for universities to come together as part of a collaborative effort to enact long-term, strategic change.”
The programme was developed in consultation with staff and students, with initial funding from the UPP Foundation and the Office for Students, and further funding from Jisc and the Charlie Watkins Foundation.
Paul Feldman, Jisc’s chief executive, said:
“We know our members are deeply concerned about staff and student mental health, and that they are looking to embed and share best practice. Supporting them in this journey, Jisc has developed a code of practice for wellbeing and mental health analytics, exploring ways in which universities can use data to inform decisions on how they support their learners.
"We also co-created a report with Emerge Education earlier this year to chart how universities can embrace technology as they build wellbeing practices into university life. Continuing to support institutions, we are now proud to support the Student Minds Mental Health Charter.”
Michelle Donelan, universities minister, said:
“The past year and a half has been an unprecedently difficult time for students and staff, and I am personally committed to ensuring they receive the consistent, effective mental health support they deserve.
"This is why I strongly support the University Mental Health Charter, which aims to drive up standards in promoting student and staff mental health and wellbeing on campuses across the country.”
Applications for the University Mental Health Charter Programme are open until 1 September 2021. Find out more about the University Mental Health Charter.