UPP Foundation backs ‘University Mental Health Charter’ with £100k grant

The UPP Foundation, the registered charity founded by University Partnerships Programme (UPP), has supported the creation of a University Mental Health Charter, published today by UK student mental health charity Student Minds.

The Charter has been supported by a £100,000 grant from the UPP Foundation and a £50,000 grant from the Office for Students (OfS). It has been developed in partnership with both organisations and other key sector bodies, including the National Union of Students (NUS), The Universities UK (UUK) and AMOSSHE, in addition to the Department for Education (DfE).

It has been 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 mental health a university-wide priority.

Data shows that over 70% of universities do not currently have a strategy for mental health, yet many report more than a 25% increase in demand for counselling services over the last five years. Similarly, staff referrals for counselling have risen by 77% between 2009 and 2015.

The Charter 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 BAME, LGBTQ+, and widening participation population groups, are met.

It will form the basis of the upcoming Charter Award Scheme, being developed in 2020, which will recognise and reward universities that promote good mental health and demonstrate good practice.

Richard Brabner, Director of the UPP Foundation, said: “The UPP Foundation has funded several projects which support student mental health but our £100k grant to Student Minds to develop and implement the Charter is our biggest single grant to date.

“Today’s publication represents a major milestone in the development of the Charter Award Scheme, which will ultimately enhance mental health in higher education by rewarding best practice in our institutions.

“We now look forward to continuing our work with the brilliant coalition of organisations involved in the development of the Charter and call on all universities to sign up once the pilot phase has concluded.”

Rosie Tressler OBE, CEO of Student Minds, said: “The University Mental Health Charter is the result of many dedicated individuals across the higher education sector coming together with the aim of transforming the lives of over 2.5 million staff and students across the UK.
“Although there is still a lot of work to be done, the Charter is a key tool for universities to improve how they respond to mental health challenges and promote wellbeing across every aspect of university life.
“Co-creating the Charter with students, staff and higher education organisations has given me every confidence that, together, we can shape a future in which every member of the university community can thrive and that the higher education sector can be an example to others.”