6 October 2022 Media releases
6 October 2022 Media releases
Our information sharing guidance is to help universities decide when and how to involve families, carers or trusted contacts when there are serious concerns about a student’s safety or mental health.
The Universities UK Information Sharing Taskforce, Chaired by Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, was established to address how and when universities share information to support students in mental health crisis. We've developed this guidance to ensure a whole university approach to sharing information and supporting students wellbeing.
We know that suicides are preventable and that universities can help to save lives when they adopt a proactive not a reactive approach to student suicide. This means giving confidence to our communities to reach out to students at risk and having plans and people in place to respond effectively, quickly and with compassion.
Families, carers, and trusted others can play an essential part in supporting a student who is at risk or about whom there may be serious concerns. Referred to as the Triangle of Care, this asserts that care is best delivered when trusted carers, people needing support and professionals/practitioners work together to ensure the best outcome.
There are steps all universities can and should take to support as many students as possible to provide the right information including:
being clear about who counts as a contact
telling students how their contact information will be used
building questions about trusted contacts into the enrolment process
refreshing trusted contact information regularly
gaining consent from contacts
Universities can play an important role in opening up early conversations about sharing information with their trusted contacts by:
supporting students to express their preferences around sharing information
recording relevant conversations
considering what information should be shared with other health professionals
It can be difficult to know when to approach trusted contacts, especially in circumstances when gaining consent is not possible. Universities should:
decide who can take the decision to share information in an emergency
develop a policy on sharing information in an emergency
consider the individual context behind each decision
share information internally to build a full picture
mitigate any risks associated with sharing information
keep clear records
Universities should consider how they can best support students and their contacts by ensuring they are:
planning for emergency contact liaison
supporting trusted contacts who are students themselves
giving designated staff flexibility over how they support students and their contacts
Universities should support all staff who work with students to know the signs that a student may be at risk and to share those concerns with the appropriate people by:
giving staff clarity about their roles and responsibilities
developing a university-wide approach to referral
providing training appropriate to staff members’ levels of responsibility
since the policy was introduced in 2017, levels of opting-in have remained above 90%