A whole university approach

The mental health and wellbeing of students and staff in HE has been the focus of increasing attention and activity for a number of years. A whole-university approach to mental health and wellbeing recommends that all aspects of university life promote and support student and staff mental health. Such an approach is more important than ever to address staff and student mental health and wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic and in its aftermath.

UCEA is a member of the Mental Health in Higher Education (MHHE) advisory group led by UUK and chaired by Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor of University of West of England. The MHHE Advisory Group is a strategic group covering staff and students which considers the wide range of perspectives and stakeholders to agree a shared vison and approach and to advise and align activity between key partners. This longer-term approach is set out in UUK’s, StepChange: mentally healthy universities framework and Student Minds’ University Mental Health Charter and is endorsed by government, the HE sector regulator, the NHS and Mind’s Mentally Healthy Universities programme.


UUK’s refreshed Stepchange: mentally healthy universities is a strategic framework for a whole-university approach to mental health and wellbeing at universities. The framework calls on HEIs to see mental health as a foundation to all aspects of university life for students and staff and that HEIs should promote mental health and wellbeing, enabling all students and all staff to thrive and succeed to their best potential. The refreshed Mentally Healthy Universities framework comprises four domains (learn, live, work and support) and five key enablers which are leadership, research and innovation, inclusivity, data/information sharing and co-production with staff and students. The framework is essentially an improvement self-assessment tool for HEIs.

Healthy Universities Network 

The UK Healthy Universities Network supports its members to develop and implement a whole-university approach to health, wellbeing and sustainability. The network is seeking to build a global movement of HEIs committed to creating health-enhancing cultures and environments and contributing to the wellbeing of people, places and the planet.

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Page updated 25 January 2021