University Mental Health Charter launched

The University Mental Health Charter was launched this week (Monday, 9th December 2019).
The University Mental Health Charter was launched this week (Monday, 9th December 2019), co-created with staff and students from over 200 higher education organisations across the UK. It provides a set of principles of good practice that challenge universities to go beyond baseline requirements and make mental health a university-wide priority. 

Data shows that over 70% of universities do not currently have a strategy for mental health yet many report more than a 25% increase in demand for counselling services over the last five years (IPPR, 2017). Similarly, staff referrals for counselling have risen by 77% between 2009 and 2015 (HEPI, 2019).

The Charter encourages universities to provide consistently high-quality services and be proactive in promoting good mental health, ensuring the needs of all staff and students, including BAME, LGBTQ+, and widening participation population groups, are met. It will form the basis of the upcoming Charter Award Scheme, being developed in 2020, which will recognise and reward universities that promote good mental health and demonstrate good practice.

The Charter has been supported by a £100,000 grant from the UPP Foundation and £50,000 grant from the Office for Students (OfS).  It has been developed in partnership with these organisations and other key bodies within the sector, including the National Union of Students (NUS), Universities UK (UUK) and AMOSSHE, in addition to the Department for Education (DfE).

“The University Mental Health Charter is a product of many dedicated individuals across the higher education sector coming together with the aim of transforming the lives of over 2.5 million staff and students across the UK. Although there is still a lot of work to be done, the Charter is a key tool for universities to improve how they respond to mental health challenges and promote wellbeing across every aspect of university life. Co-creating the Charter with students, staff and higher education organisations has given me every confidence that, together, we can shape a future in which every member of the university community can thrive and that the higher education sector can be an exemplar to others.” Rosie Tressler OBE, CEO, Student Minds

The UPP Foundation has funded several projects which support student mental health but our £100k grant to Student Minds to develop and implement the Charter is our biggest single grant to date. We welcome today's publication. This represents a major milestone in the development of the Charter Award Scheme, which will ultimately enhance mental health in higher education by rewarding best practice in our institutions. We now look forward to continuing our work with the brilliant coalition of organisations involved in the development of the Charter and call on all universities to sign up once the pilot phase has concluded.” Richard Brabner, Director, UPP Foundation

AMOSSHE welcomes the arrival of the Universities Mental Health Charter and is privileged to have worked with Student Minds and other sector bodies on this important endeavour. Jayne Aldridge, Chair of AMOSSHE said: “The introduction of this critical document signals an important step in supporting the wellbeing of everyone who studies or works within UK higher education.”

We look forward to people using the Charter together to make mental health a university-wide priority and shape a future in which the whole university community can thrive.

Find out more about Student Minds, and the University Mental Health Charter. 
Delivered by EAUC