Priestley signs mental health charter

PRIESTLEY College has reaffirmed its commitment to protecting the mental health of its students and staff by signing up to a new national charter.

Assistant Principal Mark Eccleston said Priestley had always prioritised its students’ wellbeing, but signing the charter showed it remained a priority.

“The impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health cannot be underestimated and at no point have we done so at Priestley,” said Mark.

“However, our commitment to the charter just gives us some fresh focus on this important part of college life.”

The 11-point document, created by the Association of Colleges in conjunction with mental health experts, includes commitments to:

  • Promoting equality of opportunity and challenging mental health stigma
  • Providing appropriate mental health training for staff
  • Providing targeted individual mental health support where appropriate

One in 10 young people experience a mental health problem and one in five aged 16-24 experience a common mental illness such as anxiety or depression.

It is also thought that 75% of adults with a diagnosable mental health problem experience their first symptoms before the age of 24, which means Priestley plays a vital role in supporting its 2,000 students and 300 staff.

For Mental Health Awareness Day in October all students and staff were asked to pledge one thing they were going to change to improve their mental health.

Support is available through a pastoral team of tutors, a counsellor and a wellbeing practitioner, Caroline Atkinson, who was appointed recently to support students and promote positive mental health amongst the college community.

Richard Caulfield, mental health lead at the Association of Colleges, said: “Every single day colleges like Priestley provide a world class education and transform the lives of millions of people.

“This includes providing support for both staff and student wellbeing at the right time, in the right place.

“This charter gives colleges the chance to publicly state their commitment to the mental health agenda.”