New guidance on mental health and wellbeing – supporting staff and students more important now than ever
The importance of mental health and wellbeing is in focus now more than ever as people adapt to new ways of living, working and studying. For universities, this means enhancing support for students and staff alike.
Universities UK has published an open access self-assessment tool developed with the Child Outcomes Research Consortium. This self assessment tool has been developed to encourage universities to plan and implement a whole university approach to mental health (of students and of staff), as set out in Stepchange: mentally healthy universities. CORC consulted with a range of staff and students on what needs to be included in the audit and how it can be set out to be practical and useful, as well as to align with the content and approach of the Student Minds University Mental Health Charter. Each section of the self-assessment tool reflects the structure of the Stepchange: mentally healthy universities framework and includes sets of questions for university leaders and teams.
Recommended actions within the new framework include:
- demonstrating visible leadership and senior ownership of mental health as a priority to promote open conversations and sustain change
- working closely with students and staff to develop mental health strategies and services
- ensuring accessible and appropriately resourced support for mental health and wellbeing for all students and all staff
- focusing on staff mental health; inclusion of mental health in staff performance discussions and provision of appropriate training for line managers and supervisors
- clarification of the key role of academic staff in supporting the mental health of students through appropriate training and development
- commitment to assessments and course work that stretch and test learning without imposing unnecessary stress
Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor of UWE Bristol and Chair of UUK's Mental Health in Higher Education Advisory Group, said:
“The Stepchange framework provided us with an opportunity to develop a whole university approach. The new framework builds on the learning of Stepchange and moves us forward by extending our scope and thinking. It is about getting universities to think about mental health and wellbeing across all their activities and people and implement a whole university approach, with students and staff involved at all stages of the journey."
“Universities must also work in close partnership with parents, schools and employers to prepare students for the transition to higher education and with the NHS to coordinate mental healthcare for students, and to ensure that mental health continues to be a strategic priority.”