Protecting the mental health and wellbeing of all students, domestic and international, continues to be a priority for the government. The disruption and uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak has affected all age groups, but particularly young people who are making the transition from school to university 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 that 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, provides dedicated support services (by telephone and text message) for students and an online platform to help students access vital mental health and wellbeing resources. The platform bridges gaps in support for students arising from the COVID-19 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-hour, 7-day-a-week 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.