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King's joins new charter programme for student mental health

King’s is among the first group of universities to join Student Minds’ University Mental Health Charter Programme. This new framework will provide a set of evidence-informed principles to help universities across the UK strengthen mental health support for students and staff in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to create cultural change.

Student mental health

The principles champion a ‘whole-university approach’ to mental health which includes both adequately resourced, effective and accessible mental health services, as well as proactive interventions to create an environment and culture that promotes positive mental health and well-being.

The Charter was developed by the UK’s student mental health charity, Student Minds, which was founded by Dr Nicola Byrom who is now a Senior Lecturer in Psychology here at King's. As a member, King’s can now also work towards the Charter Award, an accreditation scheme which recognises universities that demonstrate excellent practice.

By joining the Student Mental Health Charter Programme we can ensure that King’s offers an even higher level of support, centred around the principles, so students and staff can use our services to make real substantive change. We are committed to creating a culture where wellbeing is ‘everyone’s business’ and remains a strategic focus.– Professor Shitij Kapur, President & Principal

With the mental health of students and young people being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, the principles established by The Charter Programme can help universities build on they work they have done over the past 18 months so they can continue to learn from one another and make wellbeing a priority right across higher education.

The programme will provide space for King’s to think strategically and collaborate with other universities to change in a meaningful and long-lasting way. We are also excited by the opportunity the programme presents to further develop discussions on ways to best measure student wellbeing and effectively evaluate interventions– Professor Juliet Foster, Dean of Education, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience

King’s membership to the Charter follows the university’s Time to Change pledge in 2014 and the launch of its Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategic Plan in 2018 with the support of senior leadership and Students’ Union. As part of the plan, progress has been made in enhancing specialist support and strengthening working together to embed positive wellbeing as a fundamental ethos. This includes establishing a new team of Faculty Wellbeing and Welfare Advisors to ensure students are equipped with the knowledge and support they need to be successful at King’s by working closely with student services and Personal Tutors.

Professor Juliet Foster added: “This has to be a collaborative process across the sector. We believe that the Charter Programme will allow us to build on the positive work being undertaken by the Student Mental Health Research Network (SMaRteN) based at King’s and provide greater opportunities for links between research and practice.”

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Juliet Foster

Juliet Foster

Dean of Education