Buckinghamshire New University and Bucks Students’ Union has signed the Time to Change pledge to demonstrate their joint commitment to tackling the stigma and discrimination often faced by people with mental health issues.
The pledge – which was officially signed by Professor Rebecca Bunting, Vice-Chancellor of Buckinghamshire New University and Jenny Wade, Vice President for Education and Welfare at Bucks Students’ Union – is supported by an action plan to raise awareness of mental health issues and provide support to those affected. Staff and students marked the event by making personal pledges to support the Time to Change campaign.
Professor Rebecca Bunting, Vice-Chancellor of Buckinghamshire New University said: ‘We are proud to be one of a growing number of institutions signing up to the Time to Change pledge. The University remains committed to meeting the mental health needs of its students and staff. We do so by increasing awareness and creating an environment where people are encouraged to talk about mental ill heath without fear, rejection or prejudice. We also provide support to help those affected with their studies and at work.”
Jenny Wade, Vice President for Education and Welfare at Bucks Students’ Union, said: ‘The number of people, including students, with depression and other serious mental health needs continues to rise. Signing the Time to Change pledge is a formal acknowledgment of the work already underway to highlight the importance of good mental health and the exceptional services that are in place for those who need support . We work in partnership with the University to create an inclusive, safe-space environment across our campuses.”
The University’s Disability Service supports affected students by liaising with teaching staff to provide tailored reasonable adjustments which may include additional time in exams and finding the most appropriate placement opportunities. A counselling service for students which can be accessed in person, by telephone, email and via SMS is also provided. The Senior Residents in the University’s accommodation sites are an important point of contact for students and are provided with specific mental health training to provide immediate support, such as helping someone cope with a panic attack.
University staff are also given the opportunity to declare mental health issues and discuss the reasonable adjustments that can be made to help them in the workplace. Mental health training is offered to all staff to help build awareness of, and understanding about, mental health.
Pam Owen, Equality & Diversity Manager at Buckinghamshire New University said: ‘It was encouraging that so many staff and students completed personal pledges to support the signing of the Time to Change pledge. I look forward to continuing our joint work with the Students’ Union to reduce mental health stigma and discrimination and provide support to those in need.”
Time to Change was established in 2007 and is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, with funding from the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund.