To commemorate the start of Mental Health Awareness week on the 18th of May, Universities UK (UUK) set up new guidance for Universities around the country to support staff and student’s mental health and wellbeing.
The organisation emphasised that adequate support is especially important right now as most people are adapting to new lifestyles and habits that may affect their mental wellbeing.
UUK have released an updated version of their previously existing support framework called ‘Stepchange: Mentally Healthy Universities.‘ They are encouraging all UK Universities to prioritise mental health and wellbeing across all platforms and sections of the university and university life. As a tool for further support, UUK also have provided free access to a self-assessment tool that they developed alongside the Child Outcomes Research Consortium.
On the issue of Mental Health and wellbeing for students during the current Covid-19 Pandemic, Universities minister Michael Donnelan stated that ‘Supporting students’ mental health is important all-year round, but it is even more crucial during this uncertain and troubling time. That is why I wrote to universities at the very start of this pandemic outlining that protecting student’s mental health and wellbeing during this period is an absolute priority.‘
The pillars of the Stepchange framework are to lean, support, work and live and UUK recommends universities to take the following actions:
- 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.
When speaking on the new guidelines, Chair of UUK’s Mental Health in Higher Education Advisory Group, Professor Steve West stated the following:
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.
For more information on the mental health support available at the University of Southampton, you can visit the Enabling Services or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. For urgent mental health help, please contact the Samaritans for free 24/7 at 116 123 .