Universities UK have launched the #StepChange Framework to help improve the mental health of students and staff across Higher Education. At Students Minds, as a member of the Mental Health in Higher Education (MHHE) group, we’ve been working to support the development of the framework and today we launch our Student Voices Report, which summarises student perspectives and experiences and has been an important input into the development of the framework.
Universities UK (UUK) adopted mental health as a proactive policy priority in 2016, launching the Mental Health in Higher Education (MHHE) programme to improve the mental health of students and staff across Higher Education (HE). The 4th of September is the launch of the #StepChange framework -The framework aims to help university leadership to take a whole university approach to mental health. The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) have been employed to strengthen the evidence-base on mental health in Higher Education. Their independent report is available on 4 September as Not by Degrees: Improving student mental health in the UK’s universities.
This is an exciting occasion for student mental health, with Universities UK firmly encouraging university senior management to recognise student mental health and wellbeing as a university - wide priority. Student Minds been contributing to this work through the MHHE working group, where our CEO Rosie Tressler has been active in ensuring that our research and the concerns and ideas of students have been considered in the development of the #StepChange framework. Over several years we’ve worked with students and staff on the ground at over a hundred universities and have seen their passion and dedication to creating an inclusive culture where students can thrive. The #StepChange framework recognises the role that we all have to play at all levels in an institution, and in all aspects of the student experience from where they study to where they live to how they access support.
At Student Minds we believe that student engagement and activism is crucial to changing the state of student mental health across the UK. As such, we organised the Student Voice Forum with the NUS, where students shared their perspectives on their lived experience of mental health difficulties. More specifically, the student’s experiences of mental health at university and the support they need to thrive. The discussions from these sessions were taken to the MHHE working group, and have been fed into the #stepchange Framework and Not by Degrees report.
‘Our UUK #StepChange framework encourages university leaders to take a new approach to the student mental health, adopting mental health as a strategic priority and implementing a whole university approach, with students and staff involved at all stages of the journey. Student voice and student activism must be at the heart of re-configuring universities as health promoting organisations.
In the same way, the partnership with Student Minds and NUS has challenged, shaped and inspired our work on Mental Health in Higher Education.’.”
- John de Pury, Assistant Director of Policy at Universities UK
Today Student Minds are publishing our initial findings from the Student Voice Forum and Student Perspectives Questionnaire in our report: Student Voices in the development of a whole university approach to mental health and wellbeing. We want to thank all the students who took part in the forum and questionnaire.
The Step Change framework represents an important step to tackle the many challenges in supporting good mental health and wellbeing across the HE community, but we know there is much work to be done and will be working hard to support institutions and connected organisation's across the sector over the coming years.
Student Minds recognised for their impact supporting university student mental health at 2017 GSK Impact Awards
Last week, Student Minds received one of ten 2017 GSK IMPACT Awards, a prestigious national award presented by GSK and The King's Fund which recognises excellence in charities improving health and wellbeing in their communities. As part of the award a new video about the work of Student Minds has been created, highlighting the different reasons why students may seek support and the invaluable work the charity does to improve mental health in universities around the UK.
Norman Lamb, MP North Norfolk, has been an ongoing supporter of the charity and features in the video:
“Student Minds has grown from a very small beginning to an organisation now that works in collaboration with Universities UK, has links to over 100 universities across the country and has extraordinary credibility.”
In the video we also hear from Alex, a student who attended a Student Minds peer support group at Oxford Brookes University:
“These are people just like you. They’re there for you and if you want to talk something through, you can and there are no barriers”
Alex has experienced first-hand the range of academic, financial and social pressures faced by students, which has led to growing concerns over the state of student mental health. An estimated three-quarters of lifetime mental illness begins by the time people are in their mid-twenties, making it particularly important that young people receive the care and support they need.
Student Minds CEO Rosie receiving the award at the Science Museum ceremony Rosie Tressler, Chief Executive of Student Minds, said:
"We’re thrilled to receive this GSK IMPACT Award, which recognises the importance of our work and the fantastic contribution made by our volunteers. Last week we had the enriching experience of attending the King’s Fund leadership programme for award winners. We are already we are feeling the benefits of their expertise and look forward to putting this into practice. The award will help us develop as an organisation and continue delivering support for students in the future."
The award includes a grant of £30,000 to support the Student Minds’ growth and leadership training programme as well as production of the video about the charity. Watch the video to learn about Student Minds’ work: transforming the state of student mental health so all in higher education can thrive.
Interested in getting involved in Student Minds’ work? Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following collaboration on the joint “Student Living” pilot project at Nottingham Trent University, the UPP Foundation and Student Minds have launched a student mental health guidance pack. The report is focussed on cross-organisation collaboration to support student mental health in the place where students spend most of their time, their accommodation.
For university students, the uniqueness of living in an environment where hundreds of young people live in the same place for the first time can constitute a major life transition. If a student is experiencing mental health difficulties, it can often be accommodation staff - a cleaner, the night porter or security staff - that pick up on issues. As such, if the HE sector is truly going to deliver a strategic, whole-university approach to mental health in our institutions, the approach must involve accommodation professionals.
The guidance pack - entitled “Student Living: Collaborating to Support Student Mental Health in University Accommodation” – concludes the joint pilot project, an initiative focused on training front-line staff and student resident assistants at Nottingham Trent University in supporting student mental health. The report uses the evidence from this project, interviews with frontline staff and experts, and input from students and graduates as well as case studies, to provide the HE sector with a series of recommendations on how to support mental health, particularly those living in purpose built student accommodation.
The report explores 6 key topics that can support university and accommodation colleagues to implement this approach; Auditing referral pathways and policies, workplace wellbeing strategies for staff, mental health & welfare training for accommodation staff, provision of information and resources for students, community building, and designing buildings for wellbeing.
About the programme Dr Paul Marshall, Chair of the Board of Trustees at the UPP Foundation, said:
“One of the key UPP Foundation goals is increasing student retention and helping to erode the barriers many students face to remaining in higher education. Student mental health is an extremely important issue and the UPP Foundation recognises the unique difficulties that can arise for students with mental health issues whilst studying at university. From a university perspective, it remains vital to adapt a strategic approach to wellbeing and invest in mental health. Cultivating environments and communities that are supportive of mental health, and providing timely access to support services, is the most effective approach to reducing mental health difficulties in our society. We are extremely proud to have been involved in this exciting opportunity with Student Minds to develop a research-led, bespoke project in UPP accommodation at Nottingham Trent University and are confident that our resulting guidance pack will help to inform the sector’s approach to student mental health.”
Rosie Tressler, CEO Student Minds:
“It’s been great to have the opportunity to collaborate with the UPP Foundation and Nottingham Trent University in developing this whole-community approach to supporting student mental health at NTU. Around a third of students may be experiencing levels of psychological distress, so equipping staff to create supportive communities and taking health promotion and peer support to where students actually live and socialise provides exciting opportunities for prevention and supporting students to manage this important transition.”
Student Minds welcomes commitment from university and privately owned accommodation providers to develop support for students in their care, whilst acknowledging that important work is being undertaken by other partners around accommodation affordability. We hope that our public report enables greater cross-sector collaboration and shared learning between university and accommodation sectors, and complements the upcoming strategic programme led by Universities UK to encourage universities to take a strategic, whole-university approach to supporting student and staff mental health.
The report is now available here.
where staff or students will also have the opportunity to share their views and ideas.
Student Minds has beaten more than 400 organisations from all over the UK to be one of the 10 winners of the 2017 GSK IMPACT Awards, a national award that recognises excellence in charities improving health and wellbeing in their communities. We will receive £30,000 in funding as part of its prize, as well as expert support and development from The King’s Fund.
The academic, financial and social pressures faced by students has led to growing concerns over the state of student mental health. An estimated three-quarters of lifetime mental illness begins by the time people are in their mid-twenties, making it particularly important that young people receive the care and support they need.
Katie Pinnock, Director of UK and Ireland Charitable Partnerships at GSK, said:
"Student Minds is a small charity having a big impact on the promotion of good mental health in universities.
Through its dynamic campaigns and support for volunteers, Student Minds has been really successful in raising awareness of mental health issues and equipping students with the tools they need to look after their own mental health. Student Minds is an outstanding charity that’s achieved a lot in a relatively short amount of time, making it a worthy winner of a GSK IMPACT Award."
Rosie Tressler, Chief Executive of Student Minds, said:
"While around a third of students may experience mental health difficulties at university, all members of the university community can benefit from building health literacy and coping skills to manage the ups and downs of life. Student Minds was founded to encourage students to talk about mental health and promote the idea that recovery is possible. Complementary to formal mental health services, other means of care such as peer support can be an opportunity for early intervention and can help individuals to sustain positive changes in their lives.
We’re thrilled to receive this GSK IMPACT Award, which recognises the importance of our work and the fantastic contribution made by our volunteers. The award will help us develop as an organisation and continue delivering support for students in the future."
Celebrating the award with us? Tweet using the hashtag #GSKIMPACTUK and tell us why you’re proud about our ongoing work to change the state of student mental health. You can find out more about Student Mind’s year in our Annual Report 2015/16
2015-16 has been the biggest year yet for Student Minds. With over 250 students attending our peer support groups, 524 staff and students trained in our workshops and over 6 million Twitter accounts reached with #UniMentalHealthDay alone, we have had a great year of successes to shout about.
Head to our Impact section to read our Annual Report and celebrate our year with us!
Thank you to everyone (volunteers, university staff, bloggers, campaigners, funders) who continue to help us change the state of student mental health!
Student Minds, UK's student mental health charity, explain what effect Theresa May's announcement may have on the mental health of students.
May's promise for mental health training to be implemented in schools is welcome. We need to equip our young people with the knowledge, confidence and skills to recognise mental health difficulties in themselves and others, and how to provide appropriate support.
Improving mental health literacy in schools could have a large impact on how university students are equipped to manage the significant challenge of the transition out of school to university. This is an issue which comes up time and time again in our research and reports from the HE sector.
We would agree that mental health currently does not have parity of esteem with physical health. With 1 in 10 young people aged 5-16 experiencing a mental health difficulty, we hope funding allocations for mental health begin to accurately reflect this following this announcement. We need to ensure mental health services are properly resourced to close the treatment gap for mental health, and this funding must be protected as currently it can be used by other NHS services.
We welcome a focus on young peoples’ mental health within government which adds to the significant work going on within the Higher Education sector to advocate for young people’s mental health. Universities UK has established a programme of work on wellbeing in higher education to ensure that wellbeing and mental health are a strategic priority for universities. Student Minds’ is working with The National Union of Students to ensure that students are central to the direction of this work, as we believe in a person-centred approach to mental health support which also promotes mental health and wellbeing across university communities.
We look forward to seeing how the Government’s programme develops and hope that universities will also be engaged in the dialogue. Visit our Research page to find out more about our work on university student mental health.