Responding to the children and young people’s mental health green paper,
Professor Steve West, Vice Chancellor of the University of the West of England (Bristol) and Chair of the Mental Health In Higher Education (MHHE) working group, commented:
“Mental health matters to universities. Universities want our students and staff to thrive and succeed and, where they experience mental health difficulties, to feel able to ask for help and to receive it. This challenge is difficult to answer alone. Universities must work in close partnership with the NHS and with parents, schools, colleges and employers.
“Universities UK (UUK) is pleased to be part of a new national strategic partnership with government, third sector, professional bodies, students, colleges and employers focused on improving the mental health of 16-25 year olds by encouraging more coordinated action, experimentation and robust evaluation.
“We need to play a leadership role in developing seamless approaches to young peoples’ mental health support that takes them from school, through university and into adulthood and the working world”.
Paul Jenkins, Chief Executive Officer at The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and Chair of the UUK Task Group looking at the design and delivery of mental health services for college and university students, commented:
“Last year, more than 15,000 first-year students at UK universities and colleges disclosed a mental health condition to NHS or university support services. There are wide variations in mental health provision available for students.
“I look forward to working with the national strategic partnership to reduce these variations in care and to encourage local coalitions between tertiary education providers, health and care commissioners and providers and local authorities.”
Professor Dame Sue Bailey, Chair of the Children and Young People's Mental Health Coalition, commented:
“I very much welcome the Green Paper and look forward to working together across government, health and education systems and employers to enable young people to achieve and sustain good mental health as they make the important life transitions from school, colleges and universities and into the workplace.
“Our shared goal is sustainable mental health for the next generation. Nothing could be more important.”
New framework for universities to help improve student mental health
Universities UK published a new framework to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of students on 1st Sept 2017.
The Step Change framework – part of Universities UK’s programme of work to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of students and staff in higher education – is aimed at supporting university leaders to help embed good mental health across all university activities.
With reported increases in the general number of young people suffering with mental ill-health, universities have seen increases in demand for student mental health support services.
The framework recommends universities work closely with the NHS to consider how mental health care services should be commissioned and delivered to student populations. It recommends also working in close partnership with parents, schools and colleges, as well as with employers and businesses.
Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West of England and chair of Universities UK's Working Group on Mental Health in Higher Education who advised on the framework, said: “Mental health matters to universities. University leaders care about their students and staff. We want to help them to thrive and succeed as well as to support them through mental health challenges.
“We can be proud of the work that higher education institutions do on mental health, the services they provide, the impact they have on those in distress or difficulties. We want to capture these positive activities, but also ensure that our response to this growing challenge is the right one.”
The framework has been developed to help university leaders adopt a more comprehensive approach to mental health across the whole university population.
Professor Steve West added: “This framework is about getting universities to think about mental health and wellbeing across all their activities and people. From students to academics and support staff. From teaching and research to accommodation and relations with local communities. The step change in student mental health begins here.”
Universities UK’s new framework – #stepchange Mental health in higher education – will be launched on Monday 4 September. It is part of Universities UK’s wider programme of work – launched last December – to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of students and staff in higher education.
Universities UK has worked in partnership with the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) to strengthen the evidence-base on mental health in higher education. Their independent report – Not by Degrees: Improving student mental health in the UK’s universities – is being published on 4 September.
As part of the Mental Health in Higher Education programme, Universities UK has supported a Student Voice Forum facilitated by StudentMinds and the NUS. Their report is available on 4 September as Student Voices in the development of a whole university approach to mental health and wellbeing.
About Universities UK: The representative organisation for the UK’s universities. Founded in 1918, its mission is to be the definitive voice for all universities in the UK, providing high quality leadership and support to its members to promote a successful and diverse higher education sector. With 135 members and offices in London, Cardiff (Universities Wales) and Edinburgh (Universities Scotland), it promotes the strength and success of UK universities nationally and