The University of Sunderland has joined 32 other universities across the UK in signing an important charter that aims to support the mental health of all students.
The new Student Minds University Mental Health Charter Programme hopes to improve support 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 and create cultural change.
Universities on the Programme form part of a UK-wide network with access to events and opportunities to come together to improve their approach to student and staff mental health.
The University of Sunderland’s Chief Operating Officer Steve Knight is Chair of the University Mental Health and Wellbeing group.
He said: “The University welcomes the early opportunity to engage with the Mental Health Charter.
“This aligns closely with our established strategy for student and staff wellbeing. We recognise the value of a whole University approach and we look forward to realising the many potential benefits for our student and staff community.”
The University of Sunderland Wellbeing Team already have a strong track record of working closely with students and staff to ensure their mental, emotional and physical health. Throughout the pandemic the team has offered advice and support, with its Wellbeing Champions network, frequent Wellbeing Workshops and online mental health resources.
Student Debra Simpson, 41, from Fulwell, recently graduated from the University with a First in BSc Psychology with Counselling. She says: “I was approached by the Wellbeing Team when I contracted COVID-19. On more than one occasion I was emailed by a member of the team asking if there was any way in which they could support me. Being a single mum of two children and feeling quite isolated when my daughter also felt ill, knowing that support was only a phone call or click of a button away was extremely reassuring.
“As Wellbeing Champion for the School of Psychology, I was a lot of students first point of contact on any issues of mental health concerns in which I would signpost to the Wellbeing Team. All feedback I have received from other student is all extremely positive of their experience with the Wellbeing Team.
“I feel that the University signing up to the Mental Health Charter is a positive step forward in ensuring a whole university approach to mental health.”
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.”
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. “