The Task Group, launched on Mental Health Awareness Day on 10 October, was founded and will be chaired by Dr Peter Bonfield, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Westminster, as part of London universities’ trade body, London Higher.

The London Higher mental health and wellbeing event for London Higher Education Institutions at the University’s Regent Street campus, where the Task Group was launched, enabled an open conversation around what is fast becoming a key strategic priority for both students and staff in universities and higher education colleges in the UK.

Attendees were given an opportunity to find out how different organisations aim to build a supportive culture and environment around wellbeing and mental health, and why it is so important to do so.

A panel discussion, which included senior representatives from Advance HE and Barclays, offered contributions from inside and outside of the Higher Education Sector. Guests also heard how sharing of personal experiences can help break down barriers around mental health issues for the benefit of individuals, communities and the workplace.

Speaking about the event and the Task Group, Dr Bonfield said: “We had a positive first meeting and the delegates are strongly committed to this cause. We will focus on practical action, open shared learning, and complete collaboration to make things better, building a positive and active movement to do so.”

The Task Group brings together London universities to work on the mental health crisis facing Higher Education, engaging with both students and colleagues. Learning and wellbeing are closely linked, with 92 per cent of students in counselling identifying themselves as having problems with their academic work. There has also been a 500 per cent increase in the proportion of students who disclose a mental health condition to their university in the last ten years. 

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