Mental health: 32 universities adopt new Student Minds charter

Signatories have committed to “provide adequately resourced and effective support services”

More than 30 universities have adopted a mental health charter drawn up by the charity Student Minds, a move the charity’s boss said would create “a higher standard” of support across the sector. 

Student Minds chief executive Rosie Tressler said she was “inspired” by the news that 32 universities in England and Scotland had adopted the University Mental Health Charter Programme, first published in 2019. 

Signatories have committed to “provide adequately resourced and effective support services”, and reduce poor mental health and promote good mental health, by creating new institutional cultures. 

Creating a higher standard of mental health support across the whole higher education sector – Rosie Tressler, Student Minds

The charter comprises 18 themes, each setting out high-level principles to achieve a joined-up, whole-university strategy. The themes cover students’ learning, like assessments and teaching, and residential living, such as social integration and belonging. Others cover ways universities can empower students through student voice and inclusivity and improve support services, like information sharing with external organisations. Another covers the importance of maintaining staff wellbeing and development to the whole mental health of the university community. 

The charter will also encourage universities “committed to working towards these principles to share practice and create cultural change”. Signatories can also work towards winning a charter award from the accreditation scheme administered by the charity. 

Student Minds said the charter was drawn up in consultation with staff and students and thanked several universities for piloting the programme in 2020. 

Read more: Quarter of uni applicants ‘have experienced issues with eating or an eating disorder’ – survey

Said Tressler: “Together, we can create a future in which everyone in higher education can thrive.” 

“I strongly support the University Mental Health Charter,” said universities minister Michelle Donelan, who added she was “personally committed to ensuring [staff and students] receive the consistent, effective mental health support they deserve”. 

Chris Millward, director of fair access and participation at the Office for Students, said he was pleased to see “such strong interest” from universities – adding that “sharing practice and taking a cross-university approach to bring about cultural change are important factors in helping to support the mental health of students.”

Bath University vice-chancellor Prof Ian White said his university would use the charter “to look critically at our policies, culture, practice and support”. 

The following universities have subscribed to the charter: 

  • Arts University Bournemouth
  • Aston University
  • Bath Spa University
  • Birmingham City University
  • Canterbury Christ Church University
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
  • King’s College London
  • Kingston University
  • Leeds Beckett University
  • Leeds Trinity University
  • Newcastle University
  • Norland College
  • Northumbria University
  • Nottingham Trent University
  • Plymouth Marjon University
  • Teesside University
  • University Centre Leeds (Leeds City College)
  • University College London
  • University of Bath
  • University of Bedfordshire
  • University of East London
  • University of East Anglia
  • University of Essex
  • University of Gloucestershire
  • University of Greenwich
  • University of Lincoln
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Sunderland
  • University of the West of England
  • University of Westminster

Read more: Students still fear disclosing mental health conditions – Ucas

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