University of Essex: Developing an inclusive culture

The School of Health and Social Care, University of Essex, promotes positive mental health, wellbeing and compassionate care to its students. In particular, the school has applied several initiatives to foster an inclusive culture. The school highlights empowerment and being heard as important factors for students to feel valued and part of a community. This helps to ensure that students are considered as partners and do not feel there is a ‘them and us’ culture in the institution.

Key actions taken:

  • Personal characteristics are celebrated, supported and respected, including events for LGBT+ students.
  • Creating comfortable and respectful environments for students to learn. This includes ensuring students are able to challenge assumptions without fear of ridicule.
  • Curriculum and other activities are co-produced with students to ensure students feel their input is considered and valued.
  • Staff work closely with students who have specific needs or certain conditions to enable them to engage in their programme and overcome what may be considered as traditional barriers to those professions.
  • Students are consistently encouraged to reflect and challenge their own unconscious bias and prejudices.
  • Individual adjustments are made for students to recognise the bi-directional aspects of physical and mental health.
  • The social model of disability is consistently explored so students can appreciate that it’s the way society is organised that can be disabling rather than the differences of individuals.
  • External speakers are invited to speak to students to promote inclusivity and inspire students.


These interventions have enabled the school to develop an inclusive culture, where students irrespective of their individual differences play their full part in developing and progressing the study of healthcare sciences at the university.