Skip to main content

Bright Blue, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism, has today published the latest edition of its magazine Centre Write, entitled “Matters of the mind”. The magazine explores the ubiquity of mental health problems in the UK and proposes solutions for tackling them, and includes an interview with the Minister for Universities and Science.

In his interview, Sam Gyimah MP – the Minister for Universities and Science – outlines his plan for supporting students with mental health problems. He claims that vice-chancellors should now see caring for young minds, not just training them, as a responsibility of universities.

The Minister’s plans include:

  • Exploring whether an opt-in requirement for universities should be introduced, so they have permission to share information on student mental health with patents or a trusted person
  • A new Mental Health Charter to develop new standards to promote student and staff mental health and wellbeing
  • A Department for Education-led working group into the transition students face when going to university.

Speaking in our Centre Write interview, Sam Gyimah MP said:

“I think the crux of this issue is that some traditional vice-chancellors see the prime purpose of their university as training of the mind. This is no longer the case. In fact, it’s about so much more. The pastoral care for students has to be there as well for a university to fulfil its full purpose.”

“Universities should be acting ‘in loco parentis’, but this doesn’t mean infantilising students – it is about ensuring they have the right services available to them”

In his interview, the Minister argues that on his ‘Sam on Campus’ tours, the most consistent themes raised by students are: “mental health, housing and Brexit”.

In his article for Centre Write, Ryan Shorthouse, Director of Bright Blue, argues:

“More people are talking about their mental health. All this attention is, happily, resulting in increased individual and societal investment in the prevention and treatment of mental illness.”

“But, in some respects, we should be careful. Evidence, not fashion, should guide how politicians and practitioners deal with problems. There is still very limited knowledge about the precise causes of mental health problems, as well as the efficacy of different remedies. Despite this, confident conclusions about mental health are – unhelpfully, arrogantly in fact – circulated.”

“It is good news that we are talking about mental health much more in modern society. But such conversations need to be informed by better evidence”

In an article for Centre Write, Tracey Crouch MP, the first ever Minister for Loneliness, wrote:

“Last month, I announced a dedicated £20 million that will help communities to find ways to reconnect through local and national programmes. But this is just the start. The funding will be complemented by the UK’s first major strategy to tackle loneliness, set to be launched later this year.”

“The late Jo Cox instigated the fight against loneliness. I am privileged to take over her excellent work”

Tim Loughton MP, the former Children’s Minister, also wrote for Centre Write on mindfulness:

“One of the joys of mindfulness is that it can be done by anyone, anytime, anyplace. You can do it in a quiet corner during your lunch break, on the bus, in your favourite armchair or in my case in the bath.”

“The UK Parliament has been a leader in promoting the use of mindfulness not just in politics, or indeed in the bath, but all across society. I co-chair the APPG on Mindfulness with Labour MP Chris Ruane whose constant heckling and interruptions in the Commons chamber were certainly tempered after he first went on one of the courses and promoted the benefits to colleagues.”

Mindfulness won’t solve everything but for many with low level mental illness and depression it can help.”

This edition of Bright Blue’s Centre Write magazine also includes contributions from Antoinette Sandbach MP, Nimco Ali and George Freeman MP.