The five key areas identified cover a wide range of focus points in improving student wellbeing and safety:
- Core institutional safety and security
- Wellbeing and Mental Health
- International Students
- Harassment and Sexual Assault
- The Student Night Out
ProtectED is the first higher education scheme to comprehensively tackle student wellbeing and safety in this manner. Launched by the University of Salford, the scheme’s Advisory Board comprises advisers from higher education institutions, police, and more.
UMHAN were delighted to be included on this Board to provide guidance regarding university approaches to student mental health. With the peak age of onset for mental health difficulties coinciding with 80% of the population’s university years, and 29% of students reporting clinical levels of psychological distress in 2010, the need to focus on student mental health and wellbeing is increasingly clear.
- Mental health promotion for all - mental health promotion involves not only promoting the needs of those with mental health difficulties, but also promoting the general mental wellbeing of all staff and students.
- Awareness raising must be a key consideration for all universities. Participation in University Mental Health Day or similar awareness raising events is a mandatory component of ProtectED accreditation.
- Mental health services need to be flexible in their marketing to respect the way students may see themselves, their capabilities, and their group identities. Marketing mental health services in a way that makes them appear obvious for people identifying with the label ‘mental health difficulty’ is important, as is preserving the appeal for those who do not identify with this label.
- Continuing professional development is a vital part of ensuring Mental Health Advisers provide the best service to their students. A mental health adviser should remain up-to-date with legislation and clinical practice and carry out regular Continuing Professional Development activities.
- Student support services must consider psychological access issues, as well as physical access issues. Specific access arrangements must be taken into account for student mental health and counselling services. For example, private rooms where conversations cannot be overheard, proximity to a toilet, and variation of appointment availability times.
With University Mental Health Day less than a month away, UMHAN are particularly pleased to see the national campaign be used as an example of good practice for awareness-raising in Higher Education Institutions. The day occurs on the first Thursday of every March, and this year it takes place on March 2nd. More details may be found on the UMHAN website.
Annie Kemball, Senior Mental Health Adviser at Sheffield Hallam University and UMHAN Committee Member, represented UMHAN on the ProtectED Advisory Board. She says:
"Now is a good time for Universities to sign up to the ProtectED scheme. It facilitates a whole University collaborative approach to addressing issues around student safety and wellbeing. It also encourages partnerships with external agencies, at a time when University support services are experiencing increasing demand."
Find out more about the ProtectED Accreditation Scheme, its development, and its requirements by visiting www.protect-ED.org. UMHAN’s contributions may be found in the ProtectED Code of Practice, Part 3: Student Wellbeing and Mental Health.
 Higher Education Policy Institute Report 88
 Bewick et al, 2010.
 UMHAN Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion
 Practical Guidance for the Development and Day-to-Day Provision of a Higher Education Institution Mental Health Service
 UMHAN: Access Arrangements for Mental Health Provision in Higher Education