University of Buckingham to become Britain’s first ‘positive-health university’

2 March 2016

The University of Buckingham is to become Britain’s first “positive-health university” in order to help prevent mental health problems.

The drive is being led by Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor, who, as Head of the leading independent school Wellington College, led the drive for positive health and well-being in schools in Britain in the last ten years. He co-founded Action For Happiness in 2011.

Sir Anthony Seldon said: “We have a crisis of mental health in our universities as we have amongst our young people in schools. We need to adopt policies that will help prevent mental health issues becoming problems for our students, and identify students with difficulties early on once they are manifest. It is better to prevent someone from falling off a waterfall that try to help them once they have fallen over the edge.

How is Buckingham going to become a “positive health university”? – by adopting the following plan.

  • Quality pastoral care will be fundamental, with committed personal tutors ensuring that students know there is always someone to turn to who can help them get the right help with their particular problem and pass them on to professionals as necessary.
  • Easing the transition from school to university, including making information available about the range of issues facing new students and trying to ensure much better communication with schools and with home where there has been a history of difficulty.
  • Promoting a collegiate atmosphere with appropriate staff to student ratio will be central to helping students feel mentally secure and that they have both adults and peers who they can connect with.
  • Buddy schemes will be strongly encouraged so that students can benefit from the support of students who have faced some of the issues they are confronted with for the first time. Student Minds, a leading body in student mental health, strongly supports peer-to-peer support.
  • Ubiquitous material will be available to remind students and encourage them about healthy eating, not drinking too much, not taking drugs, using relaxation techniques and not engaging in laddish behaviour. The culture of heavy drinking, a “blind eye” to drug-taking, and tacit endorsement of a “laddish culture” will be tackled head on.

We will also be starting to develop core modules in resilience, mindfulness, emotional well-being and mental health literacy.

Careers advice will be made available so students learn the rhythms of working life, and anxieties about careers can be reduced.

Resilience, mindfulness, emotional well-being.