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Student and staff health and wellbeing

Good mental health helps students and staff to fulfil their individual potential and brings wider benefits to our society and economy.

Universities UK (UUK) established a proactive programme of work on mental health in higher education in December 2016. The programme will ensure that wellbeing and mental health are a strategic priority for universities. Two principles inform this work:

  • ​​​We all have mental health, well or unwell.
  • A whole university approach to wellbeing is needed.

#StepChange framework​​​

Step Change framework was published in September 2017 to support higher education institutions to improve the mental health of students and staff. The aim of the framework is to encourage university leaders to adopt a strategic, whole organisation, whole population approach to mental health. The publication sets out:​

  • a case for a strategic approach
  • a vision
  • a whole-institution approach
  • an eight-step framework for achieving the vision

Research

UUK has worked in partnership with the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) to address gaps in evidence on mental health in higher education. Not by Degrees: Improving student mental health in the UK's universities research includes a narrative literature review, sixteen case studies, and a survey of higher education provision across multiple settings, including UUK and GuildHE members, the Mixed Economy Group of the Association of Colleges, and Independent Higher Education.

Continuing priorities


 

​​​Implementation

University of the West of England (UWE)​, Cardiff University, University of York, Student Minds, and UUK have successfully submitted a project bid to Higher Education Funding Council for England’s (HEFCE) Catalyst Fund. As part of this, individual universities are developing their own institutional mental health strategies. These strategies are being co-created with the input from students and staff. 

​The role of Student Minds is to support the inclusion of student voice in the project.
The role of UUK is to:
  • Support the implementation of the approach initially across three institutions
  • Support the development of a suite of improvement tools
  • Develop a validated mental health and wellbeing audit
  • Disseminate these tools across the sector
The team will be reporting to HEFCE by March 2019.​

Dissemination

To share the work and findings from the framework more widely and to encourage its uptake, we will be collaborating with several universities to organise launch events across the country. This supports the development of a local profile for the strategic, whole institution approach and allows the individual institution to announce their own actions in response to the framework.

If your institution is interested in organising such an event, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team.

Working with government

Following the publication of 'Transforming Children and Young People's Mental Health Provision: a Green Paper', UUK is pleased to be part of a new national strategic partnership with government, third sector, professional bodies, students, colleges and employers focused on improving the mental health of 16-25 year olds by encouraging more coordinated action, experimentation and robust evaluation.

Care Services

The IPPR research identified the importance of the links between universities and several mental health care services, including primary and secondary care services.

A task group​ has been created to develop good practice frameworks for mental health care for higher education students and staff.

Suicide reporting

An important focus of this work is student suicide, which has become a topic of national concern. Within higher education community the impact of suicide can be wide ranging and profound. UUK is partnering with University of Worcester to collect vital research data about the incidence of student suicide and current suicide prevention strategies across the HE sector. UUK will also support existing work with the Department of Health, Public Health England and the Office for National Statistics to improve the national suicide dataset.

Graduate wellbeing

It is recognised that transitions increase vulnerability to mental health difficulties. This includes the transition from higher education to a workplace. UUK is working with City Mental Health Alliance (CMHA) and Student Minds to explore better practice in graduate wellbeing.​

MWBHE

UUK's standing MWBHE working group was established in 2002. We co-produce an annual conference with the group.

Contact & social media

For more information on this work, please contact Universities UK's enquiries service or tweet us @UniversitiesUK #stepchange​      #studentmentalhealth.

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Implementation

 News

Universities have crucial role in improving young people’s mental health

4 December 2017
Reponse to the government's green paper on children and young people's mental health support.

Contact

John de Pury

John de Pury

Assistant Director
Universities UK

Kristen Hindes

Kristen Hindes

Executive Assistant
Universities UK

Gedminte Mikulenaite

Gedminte Mikulenaite

Policy Officer (Mental Health)
Universities UK