The University of East Anglia (UEA) is among one of the first universities to join Student Minds’ new University Mental Health Charter Programme, further demonstrating and developing its commitment to student and staff mental health. 32 universities across the UK, including UEA, have become early adopters of the Programme to continue to improve support for both students and staff in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Charter Programme, led by Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity, brings together universities committed to making mental health and wellbeing a university-wide priority to share practice and create cultural change. Universities on the 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. Programme members can also work towards the Charter Award, an accreditation scheme which recognises universities that demonstrate excellent practice.
By joining the Charter Programme, UEA has committed to working towards a set of evidence-informed principles of good practice. This includes a commitment to working with staff and students to provide adequately resourced and effective support services, as well as creating an environment and culture that reduces poor mental health and promotes good mental health for the whole university community.
As well as further demonstrating UEA’s commitment to student and staff mental health, becoming an early adopter of the University Mental Health Charter Programme is the latest step in UEA’s work towards implementing a university-wide approach to mental health. The Vice-Chancellor’s Task Force for Mental Health and Wellbeing, which has now run for two years, has supported a range of initiatives and work such as embedding Wellbeing Advisers into Faculties to support students directly in their School of Study, and providing all students and staff with access to 24/7 support via an external health and wellbeing programme.
Professor David Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, said: “I’m delighted that UEA has been selected as one of the first universities to be involved with Student Minds’ Universities Mental Health Charter programme. The mental health and wellbeing of our students and staff continues to be a top priority for UEA, and we welcome this opportunity to work with Student Minds to demonstrate and develop our commitment even further.”
Dr Jon Sharp, Director of Student Services at UEA, said: “Being one of the first universities to be part of the University Mental Health Charter Programme is testament not only to UEA’s commitment to supporting student and staff mental health, but also to the work of teams across UEA for bringing this all together and continuing our university-wide approach to wellbeing. Being part of a national framework and having a shared set of aims will be hugely beneficial in bringing about cultural change across the sector, and we look forward to working with Student Minds and other universities in the Programme to maintain the visibility and priority of mental health in higher education.”
Aaron Campbell, Welfare, Community and Diversity Officer at UEA Students’ Union, said: "As a recent graduate and the current Welfare Officer (2021/22) at the SU, who has struggled with mental health issues whilst studying, it brings me great joy to see the university being proactive in ensuring the welfare of its students. I believe the steps the university are taking will mean that students both present and future will have a more positive experience and be able to access timely and good quality support if they need it. I am excited to collaborate with the university and Student Minds, to the benefit of all UEA students."
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."