2020-Student Minds

University to shape future of UK's student mental health support

Tue, 09 Jun 2020 09:35:00 BST

Glasgow Caledonian University is to help shape the future of mental health support for students across the UK.

GCU is one of just three universities selected to pilot a University Mental Health Charter accreditation scheme that will recognise and benchmark best practice in supporting mental health across the country's HE institutions.

Student Minds, the student mental health care charity, has created the Charter. It hopes it “will be an important tool to support cultural change in universities, improve wellbeing outcomes for students, staff and their communities and ensure mental health does not fall off the HE policy agenda”.

Principal Pamela Gillies CBE FRSE, Principal and Vice Chancellor of GCU, said: “Our University is delighted and honoured that our pioneering and holistic approach to caring for the health and wellbeing of our students and staff has been recognised by Student Minds. We look forward to sharing some of our own best practice and learning from Student Minds and some of the other best universities across the UK as we work together to help create a supportive future for all students."

Student Minds is developing the charter to guide HE institutions on how best to support their students. It is working with Universities UK, the National Union for Students, the Office for Students, and the Department for Education and staff and students across the UK.

Rosie Tressler OBE, CEO of Student Minds, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with three universities that have shown clear motivation and commitment to making mental health a university-wide priority and look forward to working with them to shape the Charter Award Scheme. Currently, universities are working hard to respond to the immediate needs of staff and students in light of the Covid-19 pandemic but as the situation develops, it is vital that the wellbeing of our university communities is a top priority. The Charter Award Scheme aims to give universities the space they need to reflect and grow, as well as celebrate where they have overcome challenges and helped their communities to thrive.”

Jackie Main, Director of Student Life, said: “We are very much looking forward to being part of this exciting pilot. Enhancing the mental health and wellbeing support we provide for our student and staff community is a top priority for GCU and there is a strong commitment to this across the University. The Charter process will provide us with the opportunity to receive feedback on the framework we have put in place and the plans we have developed. We are really pleased to have been selected and look forward to working in partnership with Student Minds to inform sector good practice in this crucial area of activity.”

GCU’s whole-institution approach to mental health and wellbeing draws together its academic and support staff, students and Students’ Association to support its Student Mental Health Action Plan across its campuses. Its Wellbeing Team provides a range of services including counselling, mental health and wellbeing advice advice, workshops, free mindfulness sessions, online resources and transitions programmes. 

It is one of just eight institutions selected to take part in a government-funded NUS Scotland mental health consultation and it is also leading an Enhancement Themes project exploring links between mental health and inclusive curricula and learning environments. GCU’s support for student wellbeing has already won accreditation from bodies including the National Union of Students Scotland, Think Positive about Student Mental Health, The National Autistic Society, and Carers Trust Scotland. 

Its work to tackle Gender Based Violence through its student wellbeing framework is recognised as sector leading and its Erase the Grey campaign has been adopted by universities, colleges and other organisations across Scotland and the UK, including Police Scotland. The Student Wellbeing Service recently become the first in the UK to achieve Autism Accreditation from the National Autistic Society. GCU is also being profiled by SeeMe as an example of good practice in the sector.