Students: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 2nd July 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Kennedy of Cradley Baroness Kennedy of Cradley Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of mental health support for students in (1) further, and (2) higher, education in England to deal with issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

As my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, have both made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Protecting students’ mental health and wellbeing is a priority. This government is doing everything it can to promote good mental health in further and higher education settings.

Many further and higher education providers are bolstering their existing mental health services and adapting delivery to means other than face-to-face. Providers have responded quickly to transform mental health and wellbeing services, showing resourcefulness and there are many examples of good practice.

In addition, the Office for Students (OfS) recently announced the Student Space platform, which seeks to bridge gaps in mental health support for students arising from this unprecedented situation. Funded with up to £3 million by the OfS and led by Student Minds, it is designed to work alongside existing mental health services.

During Mental Health Awareness Week, the government announced £4.2 million for mental health charities, including Young Minds, the Samaritans and Bipolar UK. This is in addition to the £5 million Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund for mental health charities administered by Mind.

The government has also worked closely with the OfS to help clarify that higher education providers can draw upon existing student premium funding to increase their hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. Providers are able to use the funding, worth around £23 million per month for April, May, June and July, towards student hardship funds, including mental health support.

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