Gaps in student mental health services to be addressed
The students can now benefit from a better integration of mental health services to prevent them falling through the gaps at university. UK minister for higher and further education Michelle Donelan (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
STUDENTS are set to benefit from a better integration of mental health services to prevent them falling through the gaps at university.
The new scheme will bring together university, National Health Service (NHS) and mental health services to create regional partnerships that could include physical hubs that students can visit in person.
In the past, students might have suffered from delays in accessing mental health services when they have had to move bases for study. With the joining up of these services for better communication, the students can now avail support for their mental health, which will enhance the quality of their university life and better their chances of succeeding.
UK’s minister for higher and further education Michelle Donelan and minister for care and mental health Gillian Keegan on Monday (20) brought together representatives from across the higher education and healthcare sectors to launch the new scheme and showcase examples where integration is already underway. They also shared the effective practice, and lessons learned.
The government will invest up to £3 million over the next academic year to support the initiative to help ease the pressure on the NHS and higher education providers.
“Moving to a new place is one of the most exciting parts of going to university but can create barriers for students in accessing mental health services,” Donelan said.
“We have brought together university and healthcare representatives to close any gaps between universities and NHS services so that all students can get the help they might need as they transition through university and beyond.
“This government has prioritised student mental health because we know how important it is for students to feel supported – good mental health can affect their studies, boosting attainment and outcomes and helping them towards their bright futures.”
Gillian Keegan, said, “It’s vital young people are able to access support early and this initiative will boost collaboration to ensure they get the help they need.
“We’re already accelerating the roll out of Mental Health Support Teams in schools and colleges and expanding community services for children and young people through £79 million of investment.
“I encourage everyone of all ages to respond to our call for evidence to inform our new 10-year mental health and wellbeing plan.”
Attendees at the roundtable including the Office for Students (OfS), Russell Group, Million Plus and NHS England will hear from universities who are leading the way in connecting NHS and university services and providing one-on-one support for their students.
Five locations – Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, Sheffield, and North London – have developed approaches to bring together services into a physical hub that students can visit, funded via the OfS challenge fund.
For example, the Manchester clinic, based at the University of Manchester with satellite clinics at the University of Bolton and University of Salford, works in partnership with the region’s five universities and is supported by the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.
Services are accessed via a referral from university counselling services, providing a full range of mental health assessment, support and interventions to students.
This follows on from the appointment of Edward Peck as the Student Support Champion who will help ensure universities are tackling the issues that matter for students and help support universities to spot the first warning signs of students suffering with their mental health.
This role will also feed into cross-sector collaboration to tackle the issue of student mental health including the excellent work from the University Mental Health Charter, led by Student Minds. The charter works with students and universities to improve standards of practice around addressing mental health issues and Donelan has set out her ambition for all higher education providers to sign up to the programme within the next five years, if not sooner.
The government is increasing investment in children and young people’s mental health services faster than the overall budget for mental health to ensure they can access support as early as possible to prevent any problems deteriorating.
The long-term benefits of this will be felt widely, and is part of the government’s priority work to improve public services to help young people in getting the education and skills they need to succeed, supporting them in getting good jobs and achieving their ambitions.
The government has launched a 12-week call for evidence which is open to people of all ages and is seeking views on what can be improved within the current service and build understanding of the causes of mental ill-health.
This will inform a new 10-Year Mental Health Plan to level up mental health across the country and put mental and physical health on an equal footing. The plan will build on current progress, assessing how local services can work together to prevent mental ill health.
Significant progress is also being made in children and young people’s mental health services – more than 2.4 million children and young people now have access to mental health support in schools and colleges thanks to the Mental Health Support Teams and the £10 million investment from the department for education to extend senior mental health lead training to more schools and colleges.
More widely, the government is investing at least £2.3 billion of extra funding a year to expand and transform mental health services by 2023/24 as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
On top of this, £500 million has also been provided in 2021/22 specifically to support those most impacted by the pandemic to address waiting times and expand the mental health workforce.
This included £79 million for children’s mental health services last year, enabling around 22,500 more children and young people to access support in their communities, and across schools and colleges. The NHS children and young people’s mental health workforce has also grown 40 per cent since 2019.
This is part of broader work done by the government, putting more money into health and social care than any of its predecessors and ensuring that every penny is well spent. The government is investing an additional £39 billion over the next three years so that the NHS has the funding it needs to clear the covid backlogs, on top of a historic settlement which will see the NHS budget rise by £33.9 billion a year by 2023/24, helping everyone to receive world class care more swiftly.