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.