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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. 

Alan Percy, Chair MWBHE, and HUCS (Heads of University Counselling Services)

After graduating from Bristol University, Alan started his working life in youth and community work in London in the early 1980’s. From that experience he became committed to developing different practical therapeutic strategies to help young people and adults suffering from psychological and emotional distress and the effects of mental illness to achieve their life goals. He has worked at a wide range of Further and Higher Education Institutions both as a counsellor and lecturer for over the last 30 years. Alan has worked at the Counselling Service at the University of Oxford for the last 20 years and has been Head of Counselling since 2010. Alan is a qualified Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist and clinical supervisor registered with the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) and a Senior Accredited Member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). He was Chair of the Executive Committee for the Heads of University Counselling Services (HUCS) 2017-19. In 2016 he was awarded a Visiting Professorship in psychology at Fudan University, Shanghai. In 2018 he became Chair of Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education Expert Working Group (MWBHE/Advance HE). In 2019 he was appointed Co-President of the Chinese/UK University Counselling Association (CUUCA).  

Rose Ahier, Nightline Association

Rose is a Trustee at the Nightline Association and joined the board in 2019. Prior to her role as a trustee, she spent four years volunteering at the Association and as a student listening volunteer at Exeter Nightline. Rose was elected Vice-President Welfare & Diversity 2018-19 at University of Exeter Students’ Guild and is an advocate for the student voice within mental health initiatives. She is currently training to be a psychological wellbeing practitioner.

Ms Géraldine Dufour, Vice Chair MWBHE and BACP University and College Division
As the Head of Counselling at the University of Cambridge, Géraldine Dufour oversees the provision of psychological support for the collegiate university, leading a large team of counsellors, CBT therapists, university sexual harassment and assault advisor and mental health advisors. She 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), as well as the Chair of the Academic Committee of China-UK University Counselling Association. Géraldine taught on the MA in Counselling programmes at Leicester and Birmingham Universities, and she is a visiting professor at Fudan and Tongji Universities in Shanghai. Géraldine is a member on a number of national committees related to student mental health and wellbeing, a speaker at national conferences, as well as a contributor to research.

Dr Anna MatthewsUniversity Mental  Health Advisors Network (UMHAN)

Anna is the Chair of UMHAN, CEO and founder of UMO and UMO Pro, a not for profit Specialist Mental Health & Wellbeing Mentoring Service providing bespoke one-to-one support to students and staff. Anna has worked in this sector for over 14 years and now helps to frame policy in this area. She has previously worked within the NHS and academia, principally at Leeds University. Anna has lectured, led workshops, provided consultancy in mental health and wellbeing and has run the national mental health mentoring accreditation scheme since 2016 for those wishing to work within the HEI sector and meet DSA qualifications. Anna is keen to raise awareness of the outcome measures into specialist mentoring, as well as how to ensure equal access to mental health and wellbeing mentoring. Most recently, she has published a White Paper on the role and impact of specialist mental health mentoring. This research highlights the significant benefits of the interventions on students and staff in UK Higher Education Institutions.

Dr Joan O’ Mahony, Advance HE
Joan O’ Mahony is Senior Adviser in Learning and Teaching at Advance HE, and a long-standing member of the MWBHE group.  Most recently she has led AHE’s work on embedding mental wellbeing in the curriculum, including championing greater alignment between student welfare services and learning and teaching units. She was formerly Academic Lead for Student Retention and Success at Higher Education Academy, and previously worked in a number of lecturing, teaching and research roles, including Leverhulme Fellow at London School of Economics. 

Dr Andrew Reeves (Guest member), Charlie Waller Trust

Andrew is an Associate Professor in the Counselling Professions and Mental Health, a Senior BACP Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapist and a Registered Social Worker. He is Director of Colleges and Universities for the Charlie Waller Trust.  More information about Andrew can be found here.

Nic Streatfield, AMOSSHE
Nic Streatfield is AMOSSHE Vice Chair (Professional Development), Head of Student Support and Wellbeing at the University of East London and is a BACP Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapist. Nic contributed a chapter to the book 'Student Mental Health & Wellbeing in Higher Education' wrote a module for Epiguem's 'Being Well, Living Well' online programme and is co-author of Advance HE's 'Governors Guide to Safeguarding'. Nic can be contacted at

Laura Smythson, Student Health Association
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 program 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 Dominique Thompson, Co-opted
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).  Dom has done two TEDx talks; ‘What I learnt from 78000 GP consultations with university students’  and ‘Understanding Why’.  She contributed to Student Mental Health & Wellbeing in Higher Education: A practical guide (Sage). Dom is a Clinical Advisor for NICE, RCGP and Student Minds.  Dom is lead clinical advisor for Bring Well, Living Well Epigeum  Further information about Dom  


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: