Thursday, 5 December 2019

Raising the Student Voice on the University Mental Health Charter

Michael writes about how the University Mental Health Charter offers an exciting opportunity got improving student mental health.  
- Michael Priestley

“If universities had the ideal approach to student mental health, what would that look like and how would we know?”

What is the University Mental Health Charter? 
The University Mental Health Charter is a set of principles that outline what universities can do to better support student and staff mental health and wellbeing. Student Minds will launch the content and dimensions of the Charter on the 9th of December 2019 with the pilot phase taking place in 2020. 

Why is the University Mental Health Charter Important? 
As a student with lived experience of mental health difficulties, I believe the University Mental Health Charter can offer the following exciting opportunities to benefit student mental health. 

1. It supports universities to adopt a ‘whole university approach’ to mental health. It can provide a framework to help universities to think beyond the provision of services to develop a joined-up transformative approach that embeds mental health initiatives across all policies, cultures, curricula and practices to try and prevent difficulties from occurring. This represents a shift towards stimulating structural and cultural change to reduce risk factors and increase protective factors that support the wellbeing of the whole university population. For us as students, this offers the benefit of our mental health and wellbeing incorporated holistically into the design of all areas of university policy such as accommodation, teaching and learning, support services, environment, and culture. 

2. It is grounded in diverse student voices and experience to ensure that it will be responsive to the challenges and issues we face at university on a daily basis. Moreover, Student Minds have worked tirelessly to involve underrepresented student voices so that the Charter recognises and responds to the diversity of the student body. After all, different students have different needs and can face different barriers to good mental health. 

3. It encourages universities and university leaders to really prioritise student and staff mental health and wellbeing. It aims to be challenging, ambitious, and create radical transformative and long-term change; it will not simply be another box ticking exercise for universities to compete with one and other for our fees! 

4. It allows us as students to see and understand how, and how well, our universities are working to support mental health and wellbeing.

Going Forward
We all have mental health and better mental health benefits all of us. There is still a long way to go, but the launch of the University Mental Health Charter represents a positive step towards improving the mental health of the whole university community. As students, lets continue to engage with its development and ensure that our voices are heard so that universities take action to change the state of student mental health. 

You can find information on how to get involved with Student Minds here



I’m Michael and I’m the editor of the Student Minds Blog. I’m a PhD student at Durham University studying student mental health and wellbeing. I write for Student Minds to share my own experiences of mental health difficulties, and tackle the stigma around mental health. 

1 comment: