The mental health of university students and staff has been a focus of increasing concern in the UK. Evidence has found an increase in demand for services to support student mental health, with reports suggesting that some universities are seeing a doubling in the number of students accessing support.
At Student Minds and the University Mental Health Advisors Network, we believe it does not need to be this way. Student and staff mental health has to improve. We need to come together to create long-lasting necessary change as a whole university community.
This is why universities, health care providers, organisations and students across the UK are coming together for University Mental Health Day on Thursday 5th March to make mental health a university-wide priority. December 2019 saw our launch of the University Mental Health Charter, which provides a framework of best practice to support universities across the UK to shape a future in which everyone in higher education can thrive.
However, our work does not stop there. Everybody has a role to play on University Mental Health Day, and all year round, to create the change we need to see.
Championing a whole university approach to mental health
There are a variety of factors that can affect one’s mental health, which is why it is important that we face this challenge with a whole university approach. We aspire to create university communities which provide not only well-resourced support services and interventions but an environment and culture where staff and students can thrive.
Listening to the needs of our university communities
We believe that students and staff are experts by experience. They’re the ones on the ground living the day-to-day reality of the culture, structures and policies all of which can influence their mental health and wellbeing. That’s why we champion co-production in everything we do. Our Leaders Movement puts students in the driving seat of creating change, while The Wellbeing Thesis was co-created with postgraduate researchers, and the University Mental Health Charter was created with staff and students alike. Today we are encouraging everyone to listen meaningfully to the needs of your communities in order to make change last.
Rosie Tressler OBE, CEO of Student Minds, said: “At Student Minds, we look forward to working with students and staff to make mental health a university-wide priority. It is great to see the positive work that is happening to improve mental health at universities across the country. We look forward to institutions using the University Mental Health Charter and working with students to help their communities thrive today and all year round.”
Anna Matthews, Chair, Dan Doran, Trustee, and Sam Gamblin, Charity Manager of UMHAN share: “UMHAN welcomes the numerous and varied activities being delivered to mark the 12th Uni Mental Health Day. The day was originally created to destigmatise mental health on campus and promote best practice and collaboration in an effort to properly and holistically address this pressing need amongst students in Higher Education."
This University Mental Health Day and all year round we will work together to shape a future in which everyone in higher education can thrive!