At Student Minds, we are delighted to celebrate the first wave of institutions who put themselves forward for the University Mental Health Charter Award assessments. Pursuing the Award is a statement of a university's commitment to improvement and development of better practice in university mental health.
In Autumn 2019, we published the University Mental Health Charter (UMHC) after a year of development alongside thousands of students and members of staff across the country. With a focus on a whole university approach, the Charter sets out a number of principles of good practice to help universities to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of their communities.
Then in 2020, we launched the University Mental Health Charter Programme, a place for university members to come together, share good practice and receive guidance in applying for the Award. Institutions are able to apply for the Award assessment process at any stage while a member of the programme. To date the majority of universities on the programme are still to start their assessment process. With 60 institutions committing to creating cultural change in this year’s programme, we are excited that a number of these universities have been through the Award process and we are able to announce the first group of universities to achieve Award status.
Applications for the Award are assessed by a team of peer assessors with expertise and extensive experience of working and studying in the sector. Each Assessment Team contains qualified clinicians, higher education academics, professionals, and students.
The UMHC award assessment is a robust process of evaluation aimed at:
Following the assessment, every university is provided with a detailed report highlighting good and excellent practice and recommending further actions each university can take to continue to improve their whole university approach.
Gaining a Charter Award is a recognition of the journey universities have travelled so far, in developing their approach to mental health and wellbeing.
We are pleased to announce that the following universities have received the Award this time round:
These awards are a demonstration of genuine commitment, hard work and investment on the part of these universities and the staff and students who have worked together to reach this milestone. They can be rightly proud of their achievements to date.
It is important to note that achieving an Award is a symbol of progress, it does not mean that those receiving an Award are perfect, or that every student or member of staff will have good experiences within that institution yet. Those receiving their Award today, are doing so because they have made an ongoing commitment to continual improvement and have been able to demonstrate significant and genuine progress towards a whole university approach, in line with the Charter Framework. To maintain their Awards or to achieve a higher level award, all of these institutions will have to continue to build on this progress. There is work still to be done.
There is also still work to be done across the sector. There are two higher levels of Award (merit and distinction), which no university has yet achieved. We look forward to the day when we announce the first universities to gain these levels of award.
Congratulations to these institutions. We are proud of everything they have achieved and the hard work they will do to create change and improve the mental health and wellbeing of their student and staff communities.
Thank you to everyone who made the assessment process possible. The Charter Programme is gradually ensuring the sector is working with a shared language and understanding of mental health and wellbeing, and towards a shared vision for the future. We hope the courageous example set by our first batch of universities will inspire other institutions to join the Charter Programme next year.