The University of Sheffield is set to benefit from a new £1.5 million partnership launched between Goldman Sachs and Mind, which will provide mental health support in universities.

In the first partnership of its kind, the Mentally Healthy Universities programme will be delivered by Mind and will reach over 6,000 students and staff across the University of Sheffield and nine other universities in its first two years. The University of Sheffield’s involvement will take place in year two of the project, in 2020/21.

The programme will provide support and specialist training to complement existing University of Sheffield programmes, designed to equip the University community with the knowledge, skills and confidence to support their own mental health and that of others.

This includes resilience training for students and workplace wellbeing workshops for final year students who are about to graduate and transition into the workplace.

There is a growing recognition of the mental health challenges faced by the UK’s higher education sector.

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency the number of students who disclosed a mental health condition almost doubled between 2012 and 2015 to nearly 45,000.

However, national figures suggest that mental health difficulties within higher education are currently underreported as just 1 in 125 students (0.8 per cent) and around 1 in 500 staff (0.2 per cent) have disclosed a mental health condition to their university.

Susan Bridgeford, Director of Student Support Services at the University of Sheffield, said: “The mental health of our students and staff is of the utmost importance to us so we’re delighted to be part of this new initiative, which will complement the support we already provide within our University community.

“We hope that by providing people with the tools and knowledge needed to support their mental health, we’ll be giving students the best university experience possible, as well as equipping students and staff with crucial life skills.”

Lindsay Doyle-Price from Sheffield Mind said: “We are really looking forward to working with the University of Sheffield and appreciate the commitment they have shown already to improving the mental wellbeing of their students. We will work closely with staff and students to enhance the support already provided, through a programme of specialist training and peer support. Through these interventions we  hope that staff and students will be better equipped to take care of their own mental health and also to support each other.”

Goldman Sachs is a major recruiter of university graduates and its backing for the programme is part of broader efforts to improve mental health support in the workplace and wider communities.

With a focus on students in their first and final years of study, the programme will address transitional moments in students’ lives that can bring added challenges and pressures.

The programme is funded by Goldman Sachs Gives, a donor-advised fund for Goldman Sachs’ current and retired senior employees to recommend grants to qualifying non-profit organizations.

Richard Gnodde, CEO of Goldman Sachs International, said: “The transition through higher education and into the workforce is often a challenging and pressurised time in young people’s lives.

“We believe employers have an important role to play in changing attitudes towards mental health through providing support, resources and open conversation around an often stigmatized subject.

“We look forward to supporting Mind and these universities in launching this critical programme.”

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, added: “We are really excited to be working with Goldman Sachs to better support thousands of university students and staff across England and Wales. We know that both students and staff face many pressures unique to the university environment. This timely opportunity allows us to deliver a programme that responds to the needs of university communities, building on good practice within the sector, to ensure everyone with a mental health problem receives support and respect.”