Office for Students awards funding to support University Mental Health Charter

Today the Office for Students has announced £95,000 in funding awarded to Student Minds for the next stage of the recently launched University Mental Health Charter.

Close up of people's hands talking in a group

The charter, launched by Student Minds in December, details a range of principles designed to help universities improve mental health support for students and the wider university community.

This additional funding from the OfS will be used to develop the Charter Award Scheme, which aims to recognise universities that promote good mental health and demonstrate good practice which can be shared across the sector. 

The £95,000 funding award will support:

  • development of a student engagement panel, to ensure the award scheme is produced in partnership with a diverse and representative group of students and to help those students involved in the evaluation process.
  • a more comprehensive pilot process by increasing the number of pilot universities from two to four, ensuring that evaluation methods are tested at a diverse range of higher education providers.
  • creating a digital platform, this will be a hub of resources and case studies which demonstrate examples of good practice to support universities working towards the award.
  • development of an impact evaluation to understand the full impact of the award scheme beyond individual universities and ensure it continues to be an effective tool for supporting student mental health.

Student Minds have today published a call for student panel members and for universities who are interested in participating in the pilot phase. The digital platform of resources is expected to be launched later this year.

Chris Millward, Director for Fair Access and Participation at the OfS, said:

'Having a mental health condition should not be a barrier to success in higher education. Many universities and colleges have been working hard to improve their support services for mental health and wellbeing, but there is still much more we can do. Through our funding for Student Minds and the Charter Award Scheme we aim to help provide a powerful incentive for universities to improve the support they offer students, involve students in developing effective solutions, and ensure that good practice is recognised and shared across the sector for the benefit of all.'

Rosie Tressler, Chief Executive at Student Minds, said:

'The charter has received an incredible response from the sector as a key tool for helping universities to promote a whole-university approach to mental health. This is just the start. Embedding the charter’s principles will require time and commitment from university communities. This is why we are delighted to have the support from the Office for Students and our partners to further develop the Charter Award Scheme, to support universities to create real cultural change. We encourage universities no matter what stage they are in their mental health journey to start conversations about how they can use the charter and keep moving towards a future in which the whole university community can thrive.'

Chris Skidmore, Universities Minister, said:

'It is vital that students have the mental health support they need to thrive in higher education – our universities are world-leading in so many areas and I want them to be the best for mental health support too. The government-backed charter, led by Student Minds, will play an important role in promoting good mental health across the sector by encouraging universities to rise to the challenge. I look forward to seeing positive results from the pilots and the work of the student panel.'

For more information contact Richard Foord on 0117 905 7676 or email [email protected].

Notes

  1.  The University Mental Health Charter was co-created with input from hundreds of students, staff and researchers from over 200 different universities, students’ unions and higher education organisations across the UK. It provides a set of principles of good practice that challenge universities to go beyond baseline requirements and make mental health a university-wide priority.
  2. The charter framework, which was published in December 2019, encourages universities to provide consistently high-quality services and be proactive in promoting good mental health, ensuring the needs of all staff and students, including black, Asian and minority ethnic students, LGBTQ+ students, and widening participation population groups, are met. It will form the basis of the upcoming Charter Award Scheme, being developed throughout 2020, which will recognise and reward universities that promote good mental health and demonstrate good practice.
  3. As part of the development of the charter framework, the OfS initially provided £50,000 funding to scale up the research and consultation process. Today’s announcement concerns an additional £95,000 award to help develop the Charter Award Scheme.
  4. Last year, the OfS launched a major collaborative funding programme to find innovative ways to tackle a rise in student mental health issues and spark a step-change in student support across the country. It awarded £6 million investment, with co-funding of £8.5 million, across collaborative projects based in ten English universities.
  5. More information on the provider pilot scheme and student panel can be found on the Student Minds website.
Published 03 February 2020

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