Students: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 8th October 2020.

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Photo of Liz Twist Liz Twist Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to provide additional mental health support for students in response to covid-19 restrictions.

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Minister of State (Education)

Protecting all students', domestic and international, mental health and wellbeing continues to be a priority for this government. The disruption and uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted all age groups, but particularly young people who are making transitions during this time.

Higher education providers are best placed to identify and address the needs of their particular student body as well as how to develop the services needed. Many providers have boosted their existing welfare and counselling services to ensure support services can be accessed, which is particularly important for those students having to self-isolate or who are affected by local restrictions.

Student Space, funded with £3 million from the Office for Students (OfS), provides dedicated support services (phone and text) for students and a collaborative online platform to help students access vital mental health and wellbeing resources. The platform bridges gaps in support for students arising from the outbreak and is designed to work alongside existing services.

The government has recently provided over £9 million to leading mental health charities to help them expand and reach those most in need. In addition, NHS mental health trusts are ensuring 24/7 access to crisis telephone lines to support people of all ages.

We have asked providers to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of students during this period and have enabled them to use funding, worth up to £23 million per month from April to July this year and £256 million for the academic year 2020/21 starting from August, to go towards student hardship funds and mental health support.

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