Thursday 19 December 2019

How the University Mental Health Charter Will Support Students

Alyssa writes about how the key provisions of the University Mental Health Charter can make lasting changes to the state of student mental health.
- Alyssa

As a former student who dealt with anxiety throughout university, I know how hard it can be to balance your mental health with your studies, especially when you don’t feel supported by anyone around you. I also know I’m not alone. So many university students today struggle with addressing and supporting their mental health — but that’s changing.

As a nationwide UK initiative to promote mental health support, the University Mental Health Charter wants to recognise and reward institutions that promote and support the well-being of their whole community. Students and educators alike collaborated with university leaders and professional staff in creating the charter. Student Minds recently launched the first stage of the project — one that will change mental health conversations and change the future for university students like us.

What Is the University Mental Health Charter?
Student Minds’ University Mental Health Charter represents a voluntary reward and quality improvement plan designed to recognise universities that prioritise student mental health. In March of 2019, a team from Student Minds brought together 360 students and university leaders from six campuses across all four countries in the UK and surveyed more than 2,000 students and staff members online to develop the content of the charter. It aims to make mental health a university-wide priority while maintaining the unique diversity of each institution. Students experiencing anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges can often feel isolated and unable to talk to their professors and peers, but this charter is here to make sure universities encourage mental health support at the administration level, whilst ensuring on-campus resources are available to help students.

What Are the Key Provisions of the University Mental Health Charter?
How will the University Mental Health Charter work? How can universities achieve recognition — and, more importantly, how can they improve the mental well-being of their students? Here’s why the charter is important and how it will bring about change:
1. Dedicated To Diversity: The charter recognizes that different students have various needs and can face unique barriers to accessing services, and it encourages departments to be more inclusive and supportive with their provisions and policies.
2. Evidence-based: The charter will be underpinned by relevant literature and a robust research base. As such, the charter encourages universities to develop resources based on what’s relevant to student mental health.
3. Collaborative: Students, instructors, university leaders and mental health counselors alike have been involved in developing this crucial charter.
4. Open To All Institutions: The recognition program is designed to let every institution apply for charter status, whether a university is a large, research-based facility or a smaller, private specialty school.

The University Mental Health Charter Will Make Lasting Changes
Mental health awareness is so important — especially for tutors and universities who work to support and advance students. For too long, it’s been hard for students to voice their struggles and find the right level of mental health support. But with expanded services and recognition of those universities that go above and beyond to support student mental health, more individuals will be able to realise their academic dreams without struggling alone. 

Find out more about Student Minds' work and how to get involved here

Hi, I'm Alyssa, an education and student life blogger with a passion for connecting with students of all kinds. Making positive self-care choices like these has kept me grounded through school and life — and I hope to help other students succeed, stay healthy and make the most of their university experience. Follow along on my blog, Syllabusy.

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