University of Gloucestershire pioneers new mental health programme
By Sophie Ladd
The University of Gloucestershire is proud to be a founder member of the University Mental Health Charter Programme, which was launched today to support students and staff.
The Mental Health Charter Programme, led by the UK's student mental health charity Student Minds, brings together universities committed to making mental health a university-wide priority to share practice and create cultural change.
Universities on the Mental Health Charter Programme form part of a UK-wide practice sharing network with access to events and opportunities to come together to improve their approach to student and staff mental health.
By joining the Charter Programme, universities have committed to working towards a set of evidence-informed principles of good practice, including a commitment to working with staff and students to provide effective support services, as well as creating an environment and culture that reduces poor mental health and promotes good mental health.
Programme members can also work towards the Charter Award, an accreditation scheme that recognises universities that demonstrate excellent practice.
The University of Gloucestershire offers a range of mental health and wellbeing services, including Helpzones providing confidential advice, support and guidance, a counselling drop-in service, access to a Money Advice team, and a variety of free events and activities.
Vice-Chancellor Stephen Marston said: "The University of Gloucestershire is proud to be a founding member of the University Mental Health Charter Programme.
"We are committed to supporting all our students to learn, succeed, and thrive. That is only achievable if our students are also enabled to build and sustain wellbeing and good mental health.
"Participating in the Charter Programme will help us develop our whole-university approach in supporting students with mental health challenges.
"At a time when the pressures on students are intense, the launch of the Charter Programme is timely, and we look forward to working with partners in strengthening our approach in this crucial area."
The number of students declaring a pre-existing mental illness to their university has more than doubled since 2014/15.
Students experiencing mental illness are more likely to withdraw from university, to underperform and are less likely to secure higher level employment or go on to postgraduate study.
The mental health of students and young people has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, while there has been a significant rise in the number of staff accessing counselling and occupational health services.
The Charter Programme was developed in consultation with staff and students, with initial funding from the UPP Foundation and the Office for Students and further funding from Jisc and the Charlie Watkins Foundation.
Rosie Tressler OBE, CEO of Student Minds said: "Even before the pandemic, universities were facing increasing reports of poor student and staff mental health.
"The last year has highlighted even more the need for a renewed focus and investment in the mental health and wellbeing of our university communities.
"Now is the time for the universities to come together as part of a collaborative effort to enact long-term, strategic change.
"We are inspired by the number of universities that have committed to coming together as part of the University Mental Health Charter Programme to ensure improved and more equal mental health and wellbeing outcomes for the whole university community.
"Creating a higher standard of mental health support across the whole higher education sector; together, we can create a future in which everyone in higher education can thrive."
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