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Northumbria demonstrates commitment to mental health by joining Mental Health Charter Programme

28th July 2021

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 and create cultural change. Universities on the Charter Programme form part of a UK-wide practice sharing network with access to events and opportunities – encouraging institutions support one another in improving 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, universities have 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.

This new initiative runs alongside the University’s sector-leading project to use data capture and student facing analytics to help generate early warning signs for students’ mental health and wellbeing. All outputs from the project will be scalable sector wide, giving providers mechanisms to make positive interventions and tools to engage their whole student community.

Commenting on the signing Ellen Smith, Northumbria’s Head of Student Mental Health and Wellbeing commented: “At the University we take our students’ mental health and wellbeing extremely seriously and we have worked tirelessly to provide the best support possible during the pandemic.

“In joining the University Mental Health Charter Programme it shows, not only our commitment to tackling issues in our own students, but it also reaffirms our focus on working with our peers to share best practice with the sector as a whole.”

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."

Michelle Donelan, Universities Minister said “The past year and a half has been an unprecedently difficult time for students and staff, and I am personally committed to ensuring they receive the consistent, effective mental health support they deserve. This is why I strongly support the University Mental Health Charter, which aims to drive up standards in promoting student and staff mental health and wellbeing on campuses across the country. I thank all those providers who have already signed up to the Charter Programme. I hope all universities will work towards the principles of good practice set out in the Charter, as part of their whole university approach to mental health and that all universities will apply for the Programme in the coming years.”

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