PRIESTLEY College has reaffirmed its commitment to protecting the mental health of its students and staff by signing up to a new national charter.

Assistant principal Mark Eccleston said Priestley had always prioritised its students’ wellbeing, but signing the charter showed it remained a priority.

“The impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health cannot be underestimated and at no point have we done so at Priestley,” he said.

“However, our commitment to the charter just gives us some fresh focus on this important part of college life.”

The charter, created by the Association of Colleges in conjunction with mental health experts, includes commitments to promote quality of opportunity and challenge mental health stigma, provide appropriate mental health training for staff and provide targeted individual mental health support where appropriate.

At Priestley, support is available through a pastoral team of tutors, a counsellor and a wellbeing practitioner, Caroline Atkinson.

Richard Caulfield, mental health lead at the Association of Colleges, said: “Every single day, colleges like Priestley provide a world class education and transform the lives of millions of people.

“This includes providing support for both staff and student wellbeing at the right time, in the right place.

“This charter gives colleges the chance to publicly state their commitment to the mental health agenda.”

One in 10 young people experience a mental health problem, and one in five people aged 16-24 experience a common mental illness such as anxiety or depression.

It is also thought that 75 per cent of adults with a diagnosable mental health problem experience their first symptoms before the age of 24.