UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


What we do

Enhancing the evidence base and building resources for mental health care and higher education

Student and staff mental health is a growing concern. Rising numbers of university students are experiencing mental health problems and disrupted studies each year. This has been exacerbated by uncertainty, dislocation, and isolation faced by students in the current pandemic. University staff are under increasing pressure to provide support for students, amid already heavy workloads.

Yet, universities are resilient communities with substantial resources that can be leveraged to tackle these challenges. Academic psychology departments are uniquely positioned to understand the problem and find innovative solutions. And universities with clinical psychology training centres are well connected to NHS services – which are key partners in this effort. Equally key are students and staff themselves, able and eager to be empowered to support their peers.

UCL’s Division of Psychology and Language Sciences has joined forces with UCLPartners and the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families to launch a new programme. PsychUP for Wellbeing is mobilising the resources of academic psychology departments, health science networks and voluntary organisations to empower higher education, healthcare partners and, above all, students and staff.

Our work at PsychUP for Wellbeing divides into six core strands:

  1. Co-production: This is the cornerstone of what we do. Students are involved in all of our projects, and student members of our Advisory Board help steer our programme direction.
  2. Research & Evidence: Student mental health research has previously been neglected, which means there are significant gaps in the evidence base. We are helping to fill these gaps, particularly by understanding students’ lives at university and experiences of support.
  3. National Best Practice: To improve things, new and existing evidence needs to be put into practice. We are contributing to new guidelines on student mental health, in partnership with leading UK organisations.
  4. The Steps Model: University, NHS and other services must work together to provide the best mental health support for students, but this does not always happen. Our Steps Model is a single framework which unites and connects all channels of support.
  5. Prevention & Community: Students with experience of mental health difficulties are often best placed to help each other. We are collaborating with students to design peer-to-peer support schemes, wellbeing workshops and other types of support for student communities.
  6. University Clinics & Support for the System: Sometimes professional help is needed, and academic clinical psychology departments have unique expertise and long-standing links with the NHS. Specialist new ‘University Clinics’ can connect with clinical psychology departments to provide cutting-edge mental health care and consultation to university counselling and wellbeing services.