The transition from school to university can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be a potentially challenging time for new students. As universities prepare to welcome the next student intake, making students aware of the range of support available to them, including mental health support, will be high on their list of priorities for induction.
The anniversary of the Step Change guidance issued by Universities UK (UUK) is a good time for universities to review how far they have come with embedding good mental health practice across all their activities. Working through the strategy and implementation checklists can help quickly identify any areas that still require work.
Student Minds has recently issued two new online resources which support many of the priorities set out in the UUK Step Change Framework. The resources are a way to help students and staff address some important matters during transition to university life. These resources could be used flexibly and in a number of different situations. Suggestions include disseminating them via student accommodation providers and other university spaces to help students and staff.
Mental health will continue to be an area of focus for the sector in the coming months. For example:
- Student Minds is working with the Office for Students, NUS, UPP Foundation and UUK to develop a University Mental Health Charter. Student Minds has said that a diverse range of institutions will be invited to take part in the Charter development programme, starting in Autumn 2018.
- A Department for Education-led working group is looking at the transition students face when going to university, to ensure they have the right support, particularly in the critical first year of transition.
- The Government is exploring whether students can give universities “opt-in” permission to share information about their mental health with parents or another trusted person.
One area of importance highlighted by the UUK Step Change Framework is working in partnership with local NHS mental health services to:
- develop regular high level links;
- develop local strategies and action plans on student mental health;
- encourage an integrated approach of university support services with local primary care and mental health services; and
- ensure signposting.
As a firm we have substantial experience in both the higher education and healthcare sectors and appreciate the importance of these issues from a range of perspectives.