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The Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education Expert Group (MWBHE)

MWBHE exists to support and promote the mental health of higher education students and staff.

The Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education Expert Group supports and promotes the mental health of higher education students and staff.

The aim of the group is to increase collaboration between the different sectors, agencies and professional groups responsible for mental wellbeing in higher education.  

They do this through hosting conferences and discussions, collaborating in research and occasional publications.

They aim to be a reference point for university and external providers to influence policy on issues related to mental wellbeing in higher education.

They are an independent group, initially housed at UUK and currently hosted by Advance HE. They work with Advance HE to support greater synergies between student support and welfare services and  Teaching and Learning units.

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Expert group membership

Members are drawn from organisations working directly with mental health and wellbeing in the higher education sector, including AMOSSHE, the NUS, Nightline, Heads of University Counselling Services (HUCS), BACP Universities and Colleges, the Student Health Association (SHA), the University Mental Health Advisers Network (UMHAN), the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Advance HE.

Dr Dominique Thompson

Interim Chair, Mental Wellbeing in HE Expert Group
Dr Dominique Thompson
Dominique is an award winning GP, young people's mental health expert, TEDx speaker, author and educator, with two decades of clinical experience. She is author of The Student Wellbeing Series (Trigger Press), and co-author of How to Grow a Grown Up (PenguinRandomHouse). In 2021 Dom was delighted to be shortlisted alongside academic colleagues from the University of Nottingham for a THE Award – ‘Hungry for Words (Men get eating disorders too)’.

Géraldine Dufour

Consultant, Therapeutic Consultation
Géraldine Dufour
Having worked for over 20 years in universities, Géraldine set up Therapeutic Consultation so she can work directly with universities and colleges across the sector on issues related to student mental health and wellbeing. Vice-Chair of the Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education Expert Group (MWBHE) at Advance HE, UK, Chair of the Academic Committee of China-UK University Counselling Association, Géraldine is the past Chair of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) Universities & Colleges Division, and the national group for Heads of University Counselling Services (HUCS).

Nic Streatfield

Director of Student Life and Wellbeing
,
University of York
Nic Streatfield
Nic Streatfield is AMOSSHE Vice Chair (Professional Development) and Director of Student Life and Wellbeing at the University of York. A psychotherapist by training Nic has worked in university student support for nearly twenty years. Nic is one of twelve University Mental Health Charter assessors, a co-author of ‘Getting to Grips with Safeguarding; A guide for Governors’ (Advance HE, 2018) and has chapters published in ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing in H.E. A practical guide’ (Sage, 2019) and ‘Preventing and Responding to Student Suicide’ (Jessica Kingsley, Nov 2021).

Laura Smythson

Head of Wellbeing and Welfare
,
University of Surrey
Laura Smythson
Laura has a background in general nursing and now leads the Wellbeing and Welfare department at the University of Surrey. Laura's expertise lies in eating disorders and contagious disease planning in higher education, and was at the forefront of Europe's largest meningitis B vaccination programme in response to a cluster. Pandemic planning has been high on her agenda for the sector and has been involved in the response from the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Dr Anna Matthews

Chair, University Mental Health Advisors Network (UMHAN)
Dr Anna Matthews
Anna is the Chair of UMHAN, CEO and founder of UMO and UMO Pro, a national Health & Wellbeing Support Service for students and staff. Anna has worked in this sector for over 15 years and now helps to frame policy, advising in the area of student mental health. She has previously worked within the NHS and academia and most recently, published a White Paper on the role and impact of specialist mental health mentoring in UK Higher Education Institutions.

Emma Nieminen

Senior Operations Officer, Nightline
Emma Nieminen
Emma is the Senior Operations Officer for Nightline Association, the umbrella charity that supports, promotes, and develops student-run Nightline listening services across the country. Emma has volunteered and worked in the student support sector for over 10 years, with special interests in suicide prevention, training, and the power of peer support. She recently led the development of a bespoke suicide calls training package for Nightline volunteers in partnership with the Charlie Waller Trust as well as an organisation-wide suicide policy review and update to best practice.

Jane Harris

Assistant Head of Student Support (Counselling and Wellbeing)
,
University of Leeds
Jane Harris
Jane Harris joined the University of Leeds as Assistant Head of Student Support (Counselling and Wellbeing) in 2016, prior to this she worked as a counsellor and peer support trainer at the University of Oxford Student Counselling Service. Jane has also held a wide variety of roles in the voluntary sector, particularly in areas relating to social and economic disadvantage, homelessness, substance misuse and mental health difficulties.

Dr Helen Webster

Senior Advisor, Student Success
,
Advance HE
Dr Helen Webster
Dr Helen Webster joined Advance HE in 2022, from a background in university Student Services specialising in learning and academic skills development. As Senior Adviser for Student Success, she works across a range of areas including access, retention, attainment and progression with a focus on wellbeing and inclusion.

Dr Afra Turner

Senior Counselling Practitioner and Supervisor
,
King's College London
Dr Afra Turner
Afra Turner has over 25 years’ clinical and supervisory experience in the Higher Education sector. Originally qualified as a Psychodynamic Counsellor/Psychotherapist from Birkbeck University of London in 1998, she took additional training as a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, at the University of Oxford in 2011. More recently she successfully completed her Doctorate in Psychotherapy looking at the development of therapists working in the HE sector, at Metanoia Institute.

Professor Stella Chan

Charlie Waller Chair in Evidence-Based Psychological Treatment
,
University of Reading
Professor Stella Chan
Stella is an academic clinical psychologist specialising in research and clinical practice on young people's mental health. She obtained a DPhil in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford, and qualified as a Clinical Psychologist after a second professional doctorate. Her research spans across multidisciplinary methodologies, investigating biological and psychosocial mechanisms underlying depression and anxiety.

John Cowley

Programme Director for Colleges and Universities, Charlie Waller Trust
John Cowley
John is the Programme Director for Colleges and Universities at the Charlie Waller Trust. He is a BACP Vice President, BACP Fellow and Senior Accredited Counsellor. He worked as Head of Counselling, Health and Wellbeing at Cardiff University for 20 years. John has a particular interest in working creatively with organisations to enhance the provision of mental health for students. He was funded by the World Health Organisation to help a university set up a counselling service in Sri Lanka.

Dr Joan O' Mahony

Director of Academic Development
,
Bloomsbury Institute
Dr Joan O' Mahony
Joan is Director of Academic Development at Bloomsbury Institute. Previously she was Senior Adviser for Teaching & Learning at Advance HE and before that at Higher Education Academy where she led the HEA’s work on student retention.

Publications

Student mental wellbeing in higher education: good practice guide (2015)

The 2015 good practice guidance examined student requirements and the increasing diversity of higher education provision emerging across the UK's four nations. It highlights the following areas for consideration in developing institutional policies and procedures:

  • National and international policy developments
  • Duty of care and legal considerations
  • Access to support, advice and guidance
  • Provision of training, development opportunities and information dissemination
  • Demand for institutional services versus external statutory services
  • Liaison between internal and external, voluntary and statutory agencies.

Each institution is different, therefore their use of this guidance will depend on the makeup of the student cohort and the particular challenges the institution may face. 

Find out more

Contact us

Contact the Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education Expert Group at mwbhe@advance-he.ac.uk