Student Minds were pleased to be invited to attend a roundtable event this week hosted by special advisers to the Prime Minister, with our CEO, Rosie Tressler OBE, attending on our behalf. We joined representatives from a range of organisations including charities, the NHS, government departments, and other key stakeholders.
The discussions were encouraging and wide-ranging, covering a variety of challenges and opportunities related to young people’s mental health. In relation to university students, we highlighted the need for a whole university approach and the value of co-production in responding to and improving poor mental health. Particularly, we drew on our experiences developing the University Mental Health Charter with our strategic partners and the importance of bringing students and the university community together to shape it. We benefited from the opportunity to hear experiences and ideas from other partners in the sector.
We hope to have further opportunities to share best practice and work in a joined-up, collaborative manner to improve the mental health of students and young people.
In December, we published the University Mental Health Charter, outlining how universities can make mental health a university-wide priority. The Charter was just the start of what will be a significant change-programme. Today, we are delighted to share our plans for developing the Charter Award Scheme in partnership with students, thanks to additional funding from the Office for Students.
The Charter Award Scheme is a voluntary programme which will recognise and reward universities that promote good mental health and demonstrate good practice. Throughout 2020, we will pilot the process at Derby University and three additional universities before opening the scheme for applications in Winter 2020.
Thank you to the Office for Students, whose generous grant of £95,000* has allowed us to carry out our next steps in developing the Charter Award Scheme. Their funding will allow us to scale-up the pilot, develop a rigorous impact evaluation process, create a digital platform and importantly continue having student experiences at the heart of the Charter Award Scheme. These developments will help to ensure the Charter leads to real cultural change across the sector.
We encourage every university leader to spend time reflecting on the recommendations in the Charter and have conversations with their staff and students on how they can keep moving forward to achieving a whole-university approach to mental health and wellbeing.
Rosie Tressler OBE (CEO) shared:
“The Charter has received an incredible response from the sector as a key tool for helping universities to promote a whole-university approach to mental health. This is just the start. Embedding the Charter’s principles will require time and commitment from university communities. This is why we are delighted to have the support from the Office for Students and our partners to further develop the Charter Award Scheme, to support universities to create real cultural change. We encourage universities no matter what stage they are in their mental health journey to start conversations about how they can use the Charter and keep moving towards a future in which the whole university community can thrive.”
Chris Millward, Director for Fair Access and Participation (OfS), said:
“Having a mental health condition should not be a barrier to success in higher education. Many universities and colleges have been working hard to improve their support services for mental health and wellbeing, but there is still much more we can do. Through our funding for Student Minds and the Charter Award Scheme we aim to help provide a powerful incentive for universities to improve the support they offer students, involve students in developing effective solutions, and ensure that good practice is recognised and shared across the sector for the benefit of all.”
Chris Skidmore, Universities Minister, said:
“It is vital that students have the mental health support they need to thrive in higher education – our universities are world-leading in so many areas and I want them to be the best for mental health support too. The Government-backed charter, led by Student Minds, will play an important role in promoting good mental health across the sector by encouraging universities to rise to the challenge. I look forward to seeing positive results from the pilots and the work of the student panel.”
*Funding from the OfS for the Charter Award Scheme complements the start-up funding we have received from the UPP Foundation and previous funding from the OfS. We are also grateful for the in-kind support from our Steering Group partners; Universities UK, Department for Education, the Office for Students, AMOSSHE, NUS and SMaRteN