Wednesday 10-10-2018 - 10:24
A record number of colleges and universities across Scotland have signed up to put in place Student Mental Health Agreements (SMHAs) on their campuses. The news that 20 institutions have pledged to put in place SMHAs comes on World Mental Health Day (October 10).
Led by Think Positive, NUS Scotland’s Scottish Government funded mental health project, SMHAs bring students’ associations and their institutions together in a formal agreement to work jointly on mental health issues on campus.
The agreement encourages staff to review existing policy, staff training and consider a range of improvements which could have a positive effect on the staff and student experience.
Following the directive from the Scottish Government in their Letter of Guidance to institutions, it is expected that every college and university will work with NUS Scotland to develop a SMHA.
Commenting on the record number of sign-up’s, NUS Scotland Deputy President Gemma Jones said:
“On World Mental Health Day it is so encouraging to see a record number of colleges and universities sign up to create a Student Mental Health Agreement on their campus.
“NUS Scotland’s Think Positive project has already helped a number of institutions develop Student Mental Health Agreements, and I am delighted that this year will see even more agreements put in place.
“SMHAs create a framework of guidance of support to enable more students to learn and participate fully within their institution, tackling the stigma attached to mental ill health and working toward improving the mental wellbeing of the student body.
“There is a mental health crisis unfolding on our campuses and as well as being on the forefront of boosting awareness and promoting change through Think Positive’s work, NUS Scotland is also campaigning for improved mental health services for students.
“Following an FOI request earlier this year, NUS Scotland research found a 76% rise in students trying to access counselling services, with only 60% of those students going on to receive support in 2016/17.
“We were pleased to see the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government pledge to provide 80 counsellors for colleges and universities over the next four years, however we look forward to seeing more detail on the rollout of these plans.
“Students face huge pressures – and every day many juggle the need to work, put food on their plate and keep a roof over their head with the demands of their studies. It’s crucial the colleges, universities, the Scottish Government and other key partners continue work to reduce stigma, highlight support and improve services.”