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Higher Education Special Interest Group

In higher education, psychotherapy and mental health are growing in importance. At the same time the higher education marketplace continues to change, which presents challenges for both students and staff. Our Higher Education Special Interest Group (HESIG) is for UKCP members with an interest in higher education who would like to collaborate and contribute their expertise.


HESIG will be the voice for those with an interest in higher education and the mental health of students, academic and support staff working for higher education institutions. It will provide members with support through leadership, networking and training. It will enhance the standing and profile of psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic counselling by celebrating innovation and nurturing best practice.


  1. To improve the provision of mental health services for students and staff in higher education by promoting and encouraging access to psychotherapies in the higher education sector, offering advice on this provision and disseminating good practice.
  2. To function as a network for the dissemination of ideas, knowledge, service development and experience.
  3. To engage the public in dialogue, debates and discussion about social and cultural issues relevant to the mental health of higher education students and staff in the UK.
  4. To contribute to a public higher education and mental health agenda, with the aim of raising awareness of mental health issues, contributing to solutions and positive socio-cultural change in the UK, and improving access to psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic counselling.
  5. To enhance the professional standing and profile of UKCP members working/studying in the UK higher education mental health services.
  6. To provide a voice for, and offer support to, UKCP members involved or interested in higher education through networking events, research, conferences and the New Psychotherapist.

HESIG aims to achieve the above via coordinated online activity combined with regular public social events. These events will include debates with notable academics, support staff and/or psychotherapists in the public eye.  The debates will cover the challenges to the mental health of students and staff in higher education and provide opportunities to bring together the wisdom of lived experience with professional expertise.

In addition, the UKCP HESIG will host educational events for psychotherapists and psychotherapeutic counsellors and other health professionals with an interest in higher education.

Main interest areas and activities

Mental Health in Higher Education – Key Issues and Disseminating Best Practice

HESIG builds and disseminates best practice which supports the mental health of students and staff working in the higher education setting.

HESIG is a way for a group of UKCP members with shared interest to identify a range of key issues and common problems in mental health in higher education. These can then be researched further and key solutions identified on a more formal basis using the experience and expertise of the group.

HESIG members can share experiences and identify best practice for the whole group to learn and benefit from.

Networking and Collaboration

HESIG allows members to meet others working in higher education and facilitates mentoring and networking.

HESIG provides the potential for collaboration. Collaborative learning is cost effective and allows the development of common/best practice and an opportunity for joint training.

National Agenda & HE Mental Health Policy Influence

By providing opportunities for people from different organisations to collaborate, HESIG gives UKCP members a voice and greater influence with the national agenda and government initiatives on mental health policy in higher education.

Professional development

HESIG intends to influence professional development needs for the sector, looking at how these can be met from within UKCP or via the group, by facilitating the pooling of joint resources or identifying key training needs.

Membership eligibility

  • Any UKCP Member with interest in higher education (for example, students, trainees, those working in higher education as academics or support staff)

By the invitation of the Chair:

  • Staff working within higher education with a particular interest in the strategic development of all aspects of the psychotherapy and mental health support spectrum.
  • Those not directly employed within higher education but who are actively engaged with or interested in psychotherapy and mental health developments within higher education.

If you would like to become a member or be put on the mailing list to find out about future HESIG events, please email:

Steering Group

  • Prof. Sarah Niblock (UKCP – Chief Executive Officer)
  • Louise Knowles (UKCP Registered Psychotherapist; Head of Counselling and Psychological Well Being Service – University of Sheffield)
  • Jovana Perzic (UKCP – Head of Academic Enterprise and Innovation)