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Updated guidance to universities on student mental health

13 February 2015
Students sitting on steps

​Universities UK has published updated guidance to universities on how best to support students with mental health difficulties.

The guidance – drafted for Universities UK by the Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education Working Group – is written for senior leaders and managers in universities and aims to support institutions in their promotion of mental wellbeing. It updates previous guidance circulated to universities in 2000.

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “The aim of the guidance is to help ensure that universities offer effective and accessible support for students with mental health difficulties.

“Since we last published guidance in this area, there have been major changes to both universities and mental health treatment.

“Universities take student mental health very seriously. For some students, an unfamiliar higher education environment can be stressful, particularly for those who already have an underlying illness. Some students are reluctant to disclose their difficulties, which can also present a challenge for universities seeking to support them. However, the development of policies and anti-stigma campaigns is now beginning to address both these issues.

“The challenge for universities is to build on the support services and external links that exist already, enabling referral to the NHS where necessary. It is important to remember that university wellbeing services, however excellent, cannot replace the specialised care that the NHS provides for students with mental illnesses.”

Dr Ruth Caleb, Chair of the Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education Group and Head of Counselling, Brunel University London, said: “Universities have an important role to play in providing support for students with mental health difficulties. Over the last five years, we have seen an increase in the proportion of disabled students declaring a mental health condition.

“Each institution is different and the use of this guidance will depend on the nature of the student population and the particular challenges the institution may face. Our aim is to encourage, and to inform further developments within individual institutions.”

The Student Mental Wellbeing in higher education good practice guide . The guidance is launched on Friday 13 February at a conference in London for university practitioners:

Key Contacts

Jo Hindle

Jo Hindle

Head of Media
Universities UK

Luke Lambert

Luke Lambert

Press and Social Media Officer
Universities UK

Clara Plackett

Clara Plackett

Senior Press and Social Media Officer
Universities UK


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