With student mental health high on the agenda as lectures restart, Brunel University London today launches a made-to-measure masterplan to prioritise wellbeing.
Student support services have made it their mission to make sure mental health comes first both for students and staff.
It comes after at least 95 students took their own life while at UK universities last year, according to ONS figures.
“There has been a definite shift in how we speak about mental health at Brunel,” said Lesley O’Keeffe, Head of Student Services.
“This strategy demonstrates how Brunel is putting students and their wellbeing, at the heart of everything we do. And if it helps just one student, then it’s been a success.”
Brunel’s bespoke Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Students follows Universities Minister Sam Gyimah’s call to vice-chancellors during fresher’s weeks to prioritise student wellbeing and mental health.
“Brunel is not only an exemplar in its student support,” said Universities UK’s John de Pury, Assistant Director of Policy. “But it has also played a leading role in efforts to set out a new approach to mental health in higher education. Professor Julia Buckingham (Brunel Vice-Chancellor) was a key advisor to the UUK StepChange framework.
“UUK is delighted to welcome the launch of Brunel's own mental health strategy which aims to take this achievement and commitment to the next level, ensuring mental health is a strategic priority embedded across all university activities. We look forward to continuing to learn from Brunel’s experience.”
Brunel’s support includes an emergency contact ‘opt-in’ scheme which allows staff to contact a named person if they are worried about a student. So far 82% have opted into the scheme, where students nominate someone to contact in emergencies, whether a parent, guardian, friend or someone else.
There is still work to do to improve Brunel’s mental health and wellbeing support for students, Student Services admits. The new policy sets down Brunel’s commitment, outlining what it does and aims to do in five key areas. The team is now working on a mental health and wellbeing strategy for staff.
“Wellbeing is so important and can have a huge impact on student life,” said Sean Cullen, Disability Officer with Brunel Students Union. “It’s great to see Brunel taking such positive action towards helping students."
Hayley Jarvis, Media Relations
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