We are delighted to share the University Mental Health Charter with you, co-created with staff and students with one shared goal: to shape a future in which everyone in higher education can thrive.
Together, over the past year thousands of students, staff and researchers from over 200 different universities, students’ unions and higher education organisations across the UK have co-created the Charter. It provides a set of principles of good practice that challenge universities to go beyond baseline requirements and mental health a university-wide priority.
Data shows that over 70% of universities do not currently have a strategy for mental health yet many report more than a 25% increase in demand for counselling services over the last five years (IPPR, 2017). Similarly, staff referrals for counselling have risen by 77% between 2009 and 2015 (HEPI, 2019).
The Charter encourages universities to provide consistently high-quality services and be proactive in promoting good mental health, ensuring the needs of all staff and students, including BAME, LGBTQ+, and widening participation population groups, are met. It will form the basis of the upcoming Charter Award Scheme, being developed in 2020, which will recognise and reward universities that promote good mental health and demonstrate good practice.
Its 18 themes cover a broad range of university activity that can have a significant impact on mental health and wellbeing. These have been organised into five sections:
The Charter has been supported by grants from the UPP Foundation and Office for Students (OfS) and has been developed in partnership with key bodies within the sector, including the National Union of Students (NUS), The Universities UK (UUK) and AMOSSHE, in addition to the Department for Education (DfE). Find out more here.
“The University Mental Health Charter is the result of many dedicated individuals across the higher education sector coming together with the aim of transforming the lives of over 2.5 million staff and students across the UK. Although there is still a lot of work to be done, the Charter is a key tool for universities to improve how they respond to mental health challenges and promote wellbeing across every aspect of university life. Co-creating the Charter with students, staff and higher education organisations has given me every confidence that, together, we can shape a future in which every member of the university community can thrive and that the higher education sector can be an example to others.” Rosie Tressler OBE, CEO, Student Minds
“The UPP Foundation has funded several projects which support student mental health but our £100k grant to Student Minds to develop and implement the University Mental Health Charter is our biggest single grant to date. We welcome today's publication of The University Mental Health Charter. This represents a major milestone in the development of the Charter Award Scheme, which will ultimately enhance mental health in higher education by rewarding best practice in our institutions. We now look forward to continuing our work with the brilliant coalition of organisations involved in the development of the Charter and call on all universities to sign up once the pilot phase has concluded.” Richard Brabner, Director, UPP Foundation
AMOSSHE welcomes the arrival of the Universities Mental Health Charter and is privileged to have worked with Student Minds and other sector bodies on this important endeavour. Jayne Aldridge, Chair of AMOSSHE said: “The introduction of this critical document signals an important step in supporting the wellbeing of everyone who studies or works within UK higher education.”
We look forward to people using the Charter together to make mental health a university-wide priority and shape a future in which the whole university community can thrive.