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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.

Co-chair of the MWBHE Expert Group and Assistant Head of Student Support (Counselling and Wellbeing)
University of Leeds
Jane Harris
Jane is the Head of Counselling at the University of Oxford, prior to this she was the Head of Student Counselling and Wellbeing at the University of Leeds. Previously Jane 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. Jane is a UKCP accredited psychodynamic counsellor, reflective practice group facilitator, Chair elect of HUCS (Heads of University Counselling Services), Co-chair of the Wellbeing in Higher Education Expert Group, hosted by Advance HE, and sits on the BACP Universities and Colleges Division Executive and the Governance Group for Student Space.

Co-chair of the MWBHE Expert Group and Mental Health and Counselling Manager
University of the Highlands and Islands
Allie Scott
Allie is the Mental Health & Counselling Manager at the University of the Highlands and Islands. Allie has worked in a number of roles within the voluntary sector including working in community education with young offenders, those with mental health problems and those unable to engage in formal education. Allie is a BACP accredited pluralistic counsellor, the chair elect of the Scottish Heads of University Counselling Services (SHUCS), executive committee member of the Heads of University Counselling Services (HUCS) and co-chair of the Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education Expert Group, for advanced HE and The College Counselling Network Scotland Group.

GP, consultant and author
Dr Dominique Thompson
Dominique is a multi-award winning GP, young people's mental health expert, TEDx speaker, author and educator, with two decades of clinical experience.

Consultant, Therapeutic Consultation, Vice-Chair MWBHE Expert Group
Géraldine Dufour
After working for over 20 years in universities, Géraldine set up Therapeutic Consultations to work directly with institutions on issues related to student mental health, counselling, and wellbeing. Former Head of Counselling at the University of Cambridge and working as a consultant and supervisor with institutions across the sector, Géraldine brings current and practical knowledge to her practice.

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.

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.

Senior Consultant (Student Success)
Advance HE
Picture of Juliette Gaunt
Juliette Morgan is a National Teaching Fellow and Collaborative Excellence Award winner. Juliette’s current role is Senior Consultant (student success) with Advance HE. Her interests include student success, mental health and wellbeing, student enablement and leadership in Higher Education.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Chief Executive Officer, Nightline Association
Katie Endacott
Katie Endacott has worked in charities for over 15 years, and recently joined the Nightline Association as CEO. The Nightline Association supports students with their peer-led listening service, providing emotional support and information to students across the country.


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