Teaching & Learning


UCL aims for University Mental Health Charter Award

3 March 2021

UCL to apply for a new accreditation recognising universities that promote good mental health and demonstrate evidence-based practice.

Someone wearing a UCL cares T-shirt

About the University Mental Health Charter 

The University Mental Health Charter (UMHC) provides a set of principles to support universities across the UK in making mental health a university-wide priority. It was developed by Student Minds and launched in 2019.  

The UMHC forms the basis of a Charter Award Scheme which will recognise and reward universities that promote good mental health and demonstrate good practice. 

Endorsed by The British Psychological Society and supported by Universities UK, the National Union of Students (NUS) and the Office for Students, the vision of the Charter and Award Scheme is for “all universities to adopt a whole-university approach to mental health and become places that promote the mental health and wellbeing of all members of the university community”. (p.8, University Mental Health Charter

UCL intends to be among the first wave of institutions to apply for the Award in autumn 2021, at the end of its pilot phase.  

A whole-university approach to mental health  

UCL’s application for UMHC Award status demonstrates our ongoing commitment to ensuring our students are treated compassionately and understood as human beings, not just numbers (Objective 1 of Education Strategy: Personalising Student Support).  

Colleagues are already working hard to support the mental health and wellbeing of our community – this application is an opportunity to evaluate our practice and gain formal recognition for our achievements. 

To gain the highest level of accreditation, we need to show that we are promoting good mental health and demonstrate that our mental health support provision and wider practices are among the best in the sector. Our application must include positive examples across all our faculties and central services. 

We hope that these efforts will not be a one-off exercise but rather the Charter Award scheme will provide us with a structured framework for measuring our progress and help us to continuously improve how we take care of our community. 

Achieving the UMHC Award  

UCL has convened a University Mental Health Charter Working Group chaired by Prof Anthony David (Director and Sackler Chair, UCL Institute of Mental Health) to lead our submission for Charter Award status.  

Over this summer, the working group will complete a self-assessment tool where we rate ourselves against more than 200 questions, arranged under seven themes: 

Stream Focuses on:  
Learn Our approach to mental health in learning, teaching and assessment.
Support Our mental health support services and management of risk. 
Work Staff wellbeing and development opportunities. 
Live Mental health promotion in residential accommodation, community and the physical environment. 
Enablers The role of our leadership and information in promoting good mental health. 
Working with the NHS How we work collaboratively with NHS services to support mental health. 
Transitions Support for good mental health during the transition into university, the first-year experience and student progression 

Student Minds will follow up with on-site visits during 2021-22, before we are awarded a pass, merit or distinction.  

The group will also put forward a plan of action for implementation of any recommendations following our submission to the Award. 

UCL education and mental health 

The Vice-Provost's Office for Education and Student Affairs will lead on gathering evidence for the ‘Learn’ theme. Our self-assessment address how mental health is treated in curriculum design, pedagogy, assessment strategies, learning support etc. For example:   

  • How does the University ensure that the curriculum and pedagogy encourages a focus on deep learning, meaning, mastery and development?  
  • How does the University understand the current learning experiences of students?  

We’ll be working closely with the other theme leads and colleagues from across UCL to rate ourselves and provide a narrative and evidence that supports the rating. 

This process will help departments to learn from each other’s ideas of how to support wellbeing through the curriculum and good pedagogic practice. We’ll also be able to identify areas that need improvement and investigate ways to fix these issues.  

Key contacts

For more information the University Mental Health Charter and UCL’s application for the Charter Award, please contact Wes Durdle in UCL Student Support and Wellbeing. 

For questions on the UMHC ‘Learn’ theme, contact Leigh Kilpert in the Office of the Vice-Provost Education and Student Affairs.