Universities Minister announces new student mental health charter

Credit: Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah has launched discussions into a new ‘Mental Health Charter’ regarding University students, which will be based the recent statistics released, showing that student suicide rates are rising particularly at the undergraduate level. Behind the charter are Student Minds, a prominent UK mental health charity, whom will be coordinating the partnerships of groups involved, including the Department of Education, to provide the services proposed by the new charter.

The programme will be announced in Bristol at the University of West England, with University leaders expected to attend in talks on how to battle mental health issues within their respective establishments.

The charter focuses on ‘new standards’ that will aim to protect both the students and staff working within Universities. There will be greater emphasis on the transitional period students face from post 16 to undergraduate first year, with Gyimah claiming ‘it is all too easy for students to fall between the cracks and to feel overwhelmed’. More resources and money will be targeted to undergraduates to develop existing services to the critical first year undergraduates, where Gyimah believes the risk of not being properly supported through mental health is the highest.

The Office of National Statistics published that in 2017, the number of student suicides rose to 95, significantly higher than previous years, making the average death rate per 100 000 students 4.4 students, with undergraduates result at 7.1 per 100 000 students, highlighting the need for new action to support students

Both the Department of Education and Student Minds will be working under a new £100 000 grant from the University Partnerships Programme to bring about new action under the charter’s aims. University Minister Sam Gyimah told the Telegraph that he wanted to ‘avoid failing a generation of students’ and ‘wants to say no to university Vice-Chancellors claiming their role is ‘training of the mind only’.

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