Universities UK has launched a new programme of work to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of students and staff in higher education.
The aim of the project is to develop a mental health framework for universities to embed mental health and wellbeing across all university activities.
The new programme was launched today at a Universities UK meeting of university leaders in London. Leading the programme is Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West of England and chair of Universities UK’s Working Group on Mental Health in Higher Education.
At the launch, university heads also heard from Gregor Henderson, National Lead for Mental Health and Wellbeing for Public Health England, Rosie Tressler, Chief Executive of the charity Student Minds and Hamish Elvidge, Chair of the Matthew Elvidge Trust.
Professor West said: “Much of the debate around mental health in higher education has focused on demand for university counselling and support services. With fifty per cent of school leavers now entering university, and increased awareness of mental health generally, this is a challenge for universities.
“This programme, however, is about getting universities to think about mental health and wellbeing across all their activities. From students and teaching, through to academics and support staff.
“It means being open about mental health and promoting the anti-stigma campaigns that are already making a difference. And ensuring that students and staff know where to turn if they need support.
“Dealing with mental health is an issue for society as a whole, not just universities. But I am pleased that, through this sector-led initiative, universities are taking a lead in this area.”
The programme intends to:
- Establish a more robust evidence base on mental health and wellbeing in higher education via a research partnership with IPPR. This will report at the Universities UK mental health conference in March 2017 and at the UUK Summer members’ meeting
- Set out the case for institutions to see mental health as a strategic priority and to develop a whole-institution framework in support
- Establish baseline data on the mental health of our populations and the effectiveness of interventions in place
- Promote adoption of the university mental health framework and audit across the higher education sector and to help the exchange of good practice
- Develop guidelines for the co-commissioning of mental health services for university populations working with Public Health England, clinical experts and key stakeholders, including students.
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