Edinburgh launches new initiatives as part of innovative mental health strategy

The University of Edinburgh has launched a new mental health strategy which will see a number of new initiatives being implemented between now and 2019.

The aim of the strategy is to promote positive mental health throughout the University as well as to deliver greater support for students experiencing mental health issues.

Edinburgh University Students’ Association, the University Counselling Service and the Student Disability Service were the main bodies involved in the development of the policy.

The strategy’s outlined commitments include an additional £140,000 allocated to the Counselling Service between 2016 and 2018, mental health first-aid training for all personal tutors by 2019, internet-based support and building upon previous pilot schemes including more mindfulness courses, and events to increase awareness of specific issues such as substance abuse.

Mental Health and Wellbeing week is a student-led initiative that the strategy wishes to develop, whilst simultaneously strengthening the University’s links with the NHS.

The University of Edinburgh’s plan to invest a further £140,000 into its counselling service was initially announced in April 2016 and will be used to employ more counsellors in order to increase the Service’s capacity to support the student body.

The pledge followed a petition initiated by Esther Dominy, newly-elected Vice President of Welfare for the 2017/2018 academic year, entitled ‘Edinburgh University: Fund the Counselling Service’. The petition gathered 526 signatures and 189 comments as of 18 March.

In an Edinburgh University Students’ Association announcement, Jess Husbands, Vice President Societies & Activities, stated: “The release of the Student Mental Health Strategy shows a shared commitment from the University and the Students’ Association to promote good mental health and support students through tougher times.”

“There’s still a lot of work to do around the implementation of the strategy, but we look forward to the strategic and holistic changes put in place over the years to come as a result of this commitment.”

Gavin Douglas, Deputy Secretary of Student Experience at the University of Edinburgh, said: “The University aspires to be a place that enables and supports its students to flourish. This is a great vision but there’s a lot to do!

“The strategy sets out how we will work towards our goals – ensuring that students who experience mental health difficulties at the University are well supported and helping all our students develop practices that support good mental health.”

Image: Boon Low

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