Mental health and wellbeing joint working during coronavirus (Covid-19)

The speed of change brought about by the pandemic and government policy decisions affecting HEIs’ response to Covid-19 has meant that health, safety and wellbeing has become a primary focus for UCEA. We engage with a range of stakeholders including our members and work jointly with the trade unions, the Universities Safety and Health Association (USHA) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) through the Higher Education Safety and Health (HESH) Forum. UCEA and the unions agreed a set of six high-level principles for safe working during the pandemic. The frequency of the HESH Forum meetings has been increased in order to discuss and consider the health, safety and wellbeing impact of the pandemic on the sector. The mental health and wellbeing of staff was highlighted by all parties early on in the pandemic as a key concern. UCEA, the Department for Education (DfE) and the sector trade unions also meet as a tripartite forum to discuss government policy around Covid-19 including the impact on staff health and wellbeing.

UCEA is represented on Universities UK (UUK's) Mental Health in Higher Education (MHHE) advisory group and also sits on Mind's Mentally Healthy Universities (MHU) Advisory group. UCEA is also working closely with UUK as part of its Covid working group which meets regularly on a wide variety of pandemic-related issues including mental health and wellbeing. UUK is a member of UCEA’s Health and Safety Committee along with USHA, Universities HR (UHR) and other sector associations. Similar to the HESH Forum, it was decided that the Health and Safety Committee (HSC) would meet more frequently because of the impact of the pandemic on the health, safety and wellbeing on staff and students and the responsibilities of employers and HEI providers. Members of the HSC have confirmed that Covid-19 has a substantial impact on staff mental health and wellbeing. 

UCEA has additionally instituted weekly meetings with the Chair of USHA such is the value of working closely and collaboratively and at pace with expert associations during the crisis.

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Page updated 25 January 2021