The University of Bristol is one of only ten in the country set to benefit from a £1.5m investment in better mental health support.
Global banking firm Goldman Sachs will be funding the new Mentally Healthy Universities programme, which will be delivered by charity Mind and is expected to reach more than 6,000 students and staff across the chosen institutions in its first two years.
This new partnership – the first of its kind in the country – comes amid growing recognition of the mental health challenges faced by the higher education sector.
The number of students who disclosed a mental health condition almost doubled between 2012 and 2015 to nearly 45,000, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency. However, Mind says that issues are still underreported, and stigma remains.
The programme will provide support and specialist training to equip people with the knowledge, skills and confidence to support their own mental health and that of others. This includes resilience training for students and workplace wellbeing workshops for those about to graduate.
Professor Sarah Purdy, pro vice-chancellor of student experience at the University of Bristol, said: “We hope that by equipping students and staff with the tools and knowledge needed to support their mental health, we’ll be helping them to have the best university experience possible, as well as giving them vital skills for after they graduate.
“This new initiative sits alongside our ongoing work to provide the best possible mental health and wellbeing support for all our students and staff here at Bristol.”
Several students spoke out last year about the need for more investment in mental health services at the university and organised rallies to demand better support that meets the increasing need.
Goldman Sachs is a major graduate recruiter and the programme is funded through its charitable arm in a bid to improve mental health support in the workplace and wider communities.
Richard Gnodde, CEO of Goldman Sachs International, said: “We believe employers have an important role to play in changing attitudes towards mental health through providing support, resources and open conversation around an often stigmatised subject.”
Director of Bristol Mind Tom Hore added: “Whilst university can be an incredibly exciting time for students, it can also come with a unique set of challenges – including moving away from friends, family and the familiarity of home.
“It’s so important that students are supported throughout their journey which is why we’re so pleased to be working with Goldman Sachs to improve mental health resources and provide training at the University of Bristol.”
Read more: ‘It’s OK to admit that you’re not OK’