Mental health support goes digital at UHI

Universities UK’s Stepchange Framework looks at student mental health and wellbeing through four ‘domains’ of Learn, Support, Work and Live. Universities currently resource a wide range of services to support those experiencing mental illness, as the following example shows.

The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) offers access to free confidential online counselling for all its students via its “Green Button” service.

Launched in 2014, the Green Button ensures that all students have equal access to mental health services, regardless of location. This is particularly important for an institution like UHI given that access to support can be challenging in remote and rural areas.

Support is available via the Green Button in a variety of formats including video conferences, instant messaging, email and telephone. The platform complements in-person services, with some students indicating that they prefer the anonymity of the online service.

Students are offered short term counselling, generally up to six sessions with qualified counsellors who have completed additional training in online counselling. They are accredited with the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and adhere to their ethical standards and guidelines. They are also professional members of the Association for Counselling and Therapy Online (ACTO).

During the pandemic, UHI has further increased its online mental health support services by providing access to online support 24/7 and 365 days a year. Collectively, this highlights the University’s strategic commitment to student wellbeing and mental health support.