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Student mental wellbeing in higher education: good practice guide

Student mental wellbeing in higher education: good practice guide report coverUniversities have an important role to play in providing support for students with mental health difficulties.

Over the last five years the proportion of disabled students who declared a mental health condition increased from 5.9% in 2007-08 to 9.6% in 2011-12 and from 0.4% to 0.8% of the entire student population.

This guidance updates the Guidelines on Student Mental Health Policies and Procedures for Higher Education published in 2000 by taking account of the requirements of today’s students, the increasing diversity of higher education providers and the different policies and practices that have emerged across the four nations of the United Kingdom.

Implicit within the guidance is an understanding that all higher education policies and procedures should serve natural justice, and thereby support and recognise students’ rights. 


The guidance highlights the following areas for consideration in developing institutional policies and procedures:

  • Policy developments both nationally and internationally
  • Duty of care and legal considerations
  • demand for institutional services versus external statutory services
  • Access to support and guidance services
  • Provision of training, development opportunities and information dissemination
  • Liaison between internal and external, voluntary and statutory agencies

Each institution is different and the use of this guidance will depend on the nature of the student cohort and the particular challenges the institution may face. Our aim is to encourage, and to inform further developments within individual institutions. The student focus remains, but we also highlight the importance of promoting and supporting the mental wellbeing of staff. Institutions may find it helpful to set up a mental wellbeing working group to review and implement the recommendations set out in this guidance and to monitor and evaluate outcomes.

The team

Emily Darian

Emily Darian

Policy Researcher
Universities UK

John de Pury

John de Pury

Assistant Director
Universities UK

William Hammonds

William Hammonds

Programme Manager
Universities UK

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