NUS Scotland granted funding to expand Student Mental Health Agreement

Thursday 22-03-2018 - 11:10

The Scottish Government has today announced new funding to allow NUS Scotland’s Think Positive project to further develop innovative programmes supporting positive mental health and wellbeing at Scotland’s universities and colleges.

Minister for Mental Health Maureen Watt joins NUS Scotland President Luke Humberstone, President of Ayshire College Students' Association and NUS Scotland Disabled Students' Officer Lainey McKinlay, Ayshire College Principal Heather Dunk OBE and Ayshire College Chair Willie Mackie for the funding announcement

The funding, totalling £251,530 over three years, was announced by Maureen Watt, Minister for Mental Health, on a visit to Ayrshire College’s Kilmarnock campus, and live streamed from Think Positive’s Facebook page.  

Today’s announcement is an important step towards tackling the worrying levels of mental ill health we’re seeing amongst students, and will support the Think Positive project to develop and expand across Scotland’s universities and colleges.
Being a student brings with it huge additional stresses, whether it’s academic pressure, moving to a new environment, financial worries, or balancing studies with work and personal life, which all inevitably impact on students’ mental health. This funding will go a long way to helping colleges, universities and students’ associations to support students’ wellbeing.
With support from the Scottish Government NUS Scotland will continue to deliver support for institutions to develop Student Mental Health Agreements which support positive mental health and wellbeing amongst students. Through the project funding research will also be conducted into student mental ill-health, reviewing current support and will look to create a clearer picture of the kind of support that students in Scotland really need.

Since 2011 Think Positive have been working on Student Mental Health Agreements (SMHAs). SMHAs are a framework for universities and colleges to build strong support for students and staff around mental health. Participation encourages staff to review existing policy and staff training, and consider improvements which could have a positive effect. This year, the number of institutions taking part in the Student Mental Health Agreement project has more than doubled, and institutions have found implementing the SMHA a valuable process which has led to further projects and successful initiatives.

The project will start from 1st April 2018 and will continue to support institutions to review mental health work to date, consider the institution’s priorities in this area, and to evaluate the progress of agreed actions towards improving student mental health. New elements to the project will include:


  • External research to look at the current mental health provision across Scotland’s colleges and universities. There is very little data on this currently and we hope this research will help to highlight best practise and gaps in provision.
  • Introduction of a small grant scheme of £250 for a maximum of 10 institutions from 2019/20.
  • Creation of a ‘Student Mental Health Project Group’ with external organizations, institution staff, officers and students, to discuss the progress of the SMHA project.
  • A Student Mental Health flagship conference.
  • To directly work with the Scottish Funding Council, to see the introduction of SMHAs in all college and university outcome agreements.
  • An additional staff member who will focus on communicating the impact of the SMHA work and providing networking opportunities for participants.

Reacting to the announcement, NUS Scotland President Luke Humberstone said:

“We’ve seen a welcome increase in awareness and concern across the sector of the issues surrounding student mental health, with a real momentum to make positive change, and so we will work with partners to develop a sector wide approach. As part of this I’m excited to say that we will be bringing these partners together with others in the education sector to arrange a Student Mental Health flagship conference to discuss the issue at a national level, share best practice and to develop a national action plan.”

For more information about the Student Mental Health Agreement project please contact Katie Gowing, Student Health Project Consultant on



NUS Scotland

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