Student Minds to lead development of £3m collaborative mental health programme to support students through pandemic
We are delighted to announce that up to £3m in funding has been awarded by the Office for Students (OfS) and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) for the development of targeted mental health support for students during the Covid-19 pandemic; Student Space.
Student Space will act as a single point of access to support for university and college students. The platform will consist of both immediate and preventative interventions to improve mental health and wellbeing outcomes. It will offer a range of clinically developed psychoeducational resources, curate and quality-assure other types of available support such as online guidance, peer support and volunteering opportunities, and provide accessible therapeutic interventions. We will collate existing services provided by universities to ensure students are equipped to access a full range of support.
Student Minds will lead the development of Student Space, working with a range of partners, sector bodies and service providers to deliver a collaborative, clinically-approved support platform which brings together excellent work from across the sector. The programme is designed to help address the additional mental health challenges arising from the pandemic.
The first phase of the programme will be launched in late July for all 2.3 million students at registered Welsh institutions and OfS-registered Higher Education providers in England.
Rosie Tressler OBE, Chief Executive Officer of Student Minds, said:
“Over the last few months, we’ve been listening to students, our university communities and partner organisations to learn how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting their lives, from the transition to online learning, to being away from their networks of support and concerns about the future. Students and staff alike have shown great adaptability amidst the uncertainty, but we also know that the pandemic is exacerbating existing challenges for student mental health in addition to creating new ones. There is a clear need for additional mental health and wellbeing support, to complement existing activity in the Higher Education sector and NHS, to ensure that students are supported and empowered through these unique circumstances.
We know that the pandemic is not affecting every student in the same way, research has found that it is deepening long-standing health inequalities. This highlights the clear need for targeted accessible support which meets students’ broad variety of needs.
We welcome the news of dedicated funding to develop support for students and look forward to working with a broad range of organisations to provide this much-needed programme. We hope this will become one of many initiatives to support the mental health and wellbeing of our society.”
While Student Minds will oversee the development of Student Space, we will be commissioning a number of organisations in the development of bespoke content and services. To deliver this we will collaborate with a programme advisory group involving student, clinical and professional input. We will use all of our previous and current listening work with students to make sure the programme genuinely reflects the needs of our student communities.
We will implement a student-informed evaluation framework and continue to share what we are learning about student experiences through Student Space to help inform local approaches in universities, Students’ Unions and the wider HE sector, during the Covid-19 recovery period.
You can find out more information about Student Space as we develop our FAQs in the coming weeks. If you have any further questions please do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are looking for existing information on supporting students and your university community, explore our Coronvavirus Resource Hub and guidance for universities.
Student Minds are delighted to announce that Glasgow Caledonian University and Hartpury University have been chosen to pilot our University Mental Health Charter Award Scheme. The two universities will join the University of Derby, who have partnered with us as the first pilot university.
These universities have been selected for their impressive commitment to working towards a whole-university approach to mental health and clear plans for ensuring participation in the pilot will benefit their university communities. It was also important to select universities that represent a diverse range of institution types from across the UK, so the learning we gain from the pilot will be of maximum value to the wider sector.
In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, universities have been working hard to prioritise the safety of staff and students and ensure education, work and community life can continue. Once immediate responses are in place, it will be important for universities to understand how they can be proactive in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of their staff and students in a very new context. The Charter Award Scheme will support universities to make mental health and wellbeing a university-wide priority and recognise excellent practice, while appreciating the challenging local and global circumstances in which they are a part.
During our pilots, we will work with the three selected universities to test our approach to understanding universities’ progress against the University Mental Health Charter and explore how our methods can best support ongoing improvement and celebrate achievement. We are working with the pilot universities to adapt our approach and timeframe in response to the uncertain situation surrounding Covid19.
The development and pilot of the University Mental Health Charter is supported by start-up funding of £100k from the UPP Foundation and £145k from the Office for Students, in partnership with leading higher education organisations. We are grateful to the University of Derby, Glasgow Caledonian University and Hartpury University and for volunteering to help us create an Award Scheme that will shape a future in which everyone in higher education can thrive.
Rosie Tressler OBE, CEO of Student Minds said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with three universities that have shown clear motivation and commitment to making mental health a university-wide priority and look forward to working with them to shape the Charter Award Scheme. Currently, universities are working hard to respond to the immediate needs of staff and students in light of the Covid-19 pandemic but as the situation develops, it is vital that the wellbeing of our university communities is a top priority. The Charter Award Scheme aims to give universities the space they need to reflect and grow, as well as celebrate where they have overcome challenges and helped their communities to thrive.”
Professor Kathryn Mitchell DL, Vice Chancellor of the University of Derby said: “We are delighted to be supporting the implementation of the University Mental Health Charter and to be the first university to pilot the scheme. The mental health of our university communities has never been more important. The Coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated just how important it is to have a whole university approach to supporting students and staff embedded through everything that we do. Participating in the pilot has already produced new learning and activity and we are keen to learn more from the next phase. At Derby, we are proud of our reputation for providing excellent support to our students and staff and for the work we do with the sector, to improve the mental health of all of our communities. Supporting the development and implementation of the Charter is a key part of this, and we look forward to applying to the full scheme when it opens.”
Principal Pamela Gillies CBE FRSE, Principal and Vice Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University said: “Our University is delighted and honoured that our pioneering and holistic approach to caring for the health and wellbeing of our students and staff has been recognised by Student Minds. We look forward to sharing some of our own best practice and learning from Student Minds and some of the other best universities across the UK as we work together to help create a supportive future for all students."
Lesley Worsfold, Vice-Principal Resources at Hartpury University, said: “We’re honoured to have been chosen by Student Minds to pilot its University Mental Health Charter Award Scheme. Our Mental Health Strategy aims to create an informed community that recognises good mental health alongside good physical health and wellbeing, as an important requirement for successful learning and a positive student experience. Mental health, wellbeing and resilience are embedded within our strategic priorities, to facilitate a whole-institution approach that is supported by passionate senior leaders. The Mental Health and Resilience Steering Group constantly drives innovative ways of ensuring that all staff and students are engaged with this agenda. A member of the senior management team chairs this group, with a membership consisting of a wide range of staff, including college, university, professional services and our Students’ Union ensuring a holistic approach to mental health and wellbeing.”