Mentally Healthy SUs Framework
The Mentally Healthy SUs Framework has been created as part of the Student Minds SUs programme and aims to provide Students’ Unions with a helpful framework that can support the adoption of a whole-union approach to mental health and wellbeing.
Students’ Unions play a vital role in ensuring universities are places that support positive mental health and wellbeing. From building community among students to supporting them through their advice services and working with the University to improve student experiences.
Containing 10 good practice principles that outline a whole-union approach to mental health and wellbeing, the Framework has been informed by research, learning and insight that Student Minds has gained through its work in UK higher education so far. The framework has also been shaped by our listening work with our Students’ Union programme members, SU Officers and Senior Managers since 2018, which has helped us to understand the needs and experiences of Students’ Unions and their memberships.
How can you use it?
The Mentally Healthy SUs Framework helps Students' Unions to understand and advance their role in supporting the university community to thrive. It outlines the different roles SUs play in mental health and wellbeing as a community builder, through campaigning, as an employer and more.
The Framework is not meant to be seen as tick box exercise, and the principles are therefore both ambitious and high level. Its purpose is to support SUs to conduct an informal self-assessment of their organisational approach to mental health and wellbeing, encouraging SUs to work with colleagues from across the organisation to understand and improve its approach to mental health and wellbeing for both students and staff.
“Student Minds’ Mental Healthy SUs Framework is a fantastic opportunity for us to carry out a ‘self-check’ on what we do as a students’ union already to support mental health and wellbeing as well as areas to focus on going forwards. We know that our activity is really proactive and supports our members and staff to a high standard. By using the framework we are able to identify any gaps in our offer to ensure that we are doing our absolute best for our staff and students to promote and encourage positive mental health and wellbeing”
Natasha Neal, Vice President Education and Welfare at Bucks SU
"As a proud partner and supporter of Student Minds, helping to develop and deliver the Mentally Healthy SUs Framework has been incredibly rewarding for myself and Coole Insight. With the framework being made publically available, it provides the opportunity for more people and more organisations to make a positive impact on people's lives. If you or your organisation do not know where to start with developing a mental health strategy then look no further than this purposeful, practical framework."
Steve Coole, Director, Coole Insight
Why should Student Unions’ commit to this work?
In recent years the number of students declaring a pre–existing mental illness to their university has more than doubled. Students experiencing mental illness are more likely to withdraw from university, to underperform and are less likely to secure higher level employment or go on to postgraduate study. The Princes Trust Natwest Youth Index showed that the overall happiness young people feel in their lives is at the lowest level they have seen, and young people’s confidence is lower than in 2020.
The impact of the pandemic on student mental health will outlast the pandemic itself. It is important that we not only keep mental health as a priority on our agenda but take action to actively promote positive mental health and wellbeing in our university communities. We hope that by using the Mentally Healthy SUs Framework, Students’ Unions will feel more equipped to lead positive cultural change in mental health and wellbeing at university.
Our Student Minds SUs programme supports SUs to work towards the good practice principle in the Framework and connects SUs with others doing the same. If you’re interested in finding out more or want to set up a call email firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more about the framework:
Are you ready to create positive change at your SU?