Home > Policy and analysis > #stepchange > about-our-work

About our work


Since 2002, Universities UK (UUK) has hosted a standing group on Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education (MWBHE), currently chaired by Dr Ruth Caleb. The MWBHE group produced the Student mental wellbeing in higher education: good practice guide in 2015 and each year they organise a well-attended conference. The members of the group have provided invaluable expertise and funding to the Mental Health in Higher Education programme.

Mental Health in Higher Education 2016-17

UUK adopted mental health as a proactive policy priority in 2016, launching the programme to improve the mental health of students and staff across higher education.

Our working group members

The MHHE Working Group, chaired by Professor Steve West, was formed to shape and advise the work, which has also been explored and discussed extensively with wider stakeholders.

The programme has benefited from the high levels of engagement and energy shown by Working Group members.

Working Group membership

  • Steve West (chair), University of the West of England, Bristol
  • Geoff Layer, University of Wolverhampton
  • Julia Buckingham, Brunel University London
  • Koen Lamberts, University of York
  • Sir Anthony Seldon, University of Buckingham
  • Ann Marie Dalton-Pillay, Heriot-Watt University
  • Ben Bailey, Association of Managers of Student Services in Higher Education
  • Ben Lewis, Cardiff University
  • Brendan Mahon, Nightline
  • Caroline Bicknell/ Dominic Kingaby, Department for Education
  • Cathy Day, University Health and Safety Association
  • Craig Thorley/Guy Baring, Institute of Public Policy Research
  • David Mair, Heads of University Counselling Services
  • Dominique Thompson, Student Health Association
  • Gregor Henderson/Helen Garnham, Public Health England
  • Hamish Elvidge, Matthew Elvidge Trust
  • Jeremy Christey/ Geraldine Dufour, British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy Universities & Colleges
  • Jo Smith, University of Worcester
  • John de Pury/Sam Roseveare, Universities UK
  • Kate Dodd, University of York
  • Kate Wicklow, GuildHE
  • Lydia Pell, The University Mental Health Advisers Network
  • Mark Dooris/Sue Powell, UK Healthy Universities Network
  • Michael Doherty/ Clare Lamb, Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • Rosie Tressler, Student Minds
  • Ruth Caleb, Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education
  • Sarah Howls/Grace Simpson, Higher Education Funding Council for England
  • Shelly Asquith/James Elliott/ Rebecca Young, National Union of Students
  • Sue Dare, Mixed Economy Group

Our funders

MHHE has been supported in this first phase by the following funders.

Vision and framework

The first objective of the programme was to develop and agree a vision and framework to encourage university leaders to adopt a whole institution approach to improving mental health. This component of the work has been led by the UUK Policy group.

Student voice

Student Minds worked with the National Union of Students and UUK to organise two Student Voice fora, where students shared their lived experience of mental health at university and the support they need to thrive. The full report is available on Student Minds website (4 September 2017).


UUK is working with the University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE), Cardiff University, University of York, and Student Minds to pilot and implement the vision and strategic framework, with funding from Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The components of that project will be to:

  • pilot implementation of the approach initially across three institutions
  • develop a suite of improvement tools
  • develop a validated mental health and wellbeing audit
  • disseminate these tools across the sector

Service and clinical frameworks

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

The aim of the documents will be to provide guidance:

  • on commissioning and delivery of student mental health services
  • for partnership working between statutory care services and university services