New Student Mental Health Services to Focus on First Year at University

A new taskforce has been set up by Education Secretary Damian Hinds to support students dealing with the challenges that starting university can bring.

The new taskforce will look at how students moving from sixth-form or college to university can be better supported in their crucial first year, building on the work already underway across the sector to improve support for student mental health.

Key Themes

  • Independent living – managing finances, having realistic expectations of student life, as well as alcohol and drugs misuse.
  • Independent learning – helping students to engage with their course, cope with their workload and develop their own learning style and skills.
  • Healthy relationships – supporting students with the skills to make positive friendships and engage with diverse groups of people. Other risks can include abusive partners, relationship breakdowns and conflict with others.
  • Wellbeing – including loneliness and vulnerability to isolation, social media pressures and ‘perfectionism’. Students may also not know how to access support for their wellbeing.

The group may look at other areas which can affect student mental health as part of future work, such as challenges students face when moving from education to the world of work.

Members of the new taskforce – which will be known as the Education Transitions Network – will include leading sector groups such as UCAS, the National Union of Students, Student Minds, Universities UK, the Association of Colleges and the Office for Students.

Rosie Tressler, CEO of Student Minds, said:

“We often hear from students and in our research that times of transition can significantly impact student wellbeing throughout their university experience. We therefore welcome the work of the Education Transitions Network, in enabling further collaborations in this space.

We need to ensure that student mental health is a strategic priority at our Universities and for health providers. Together, we can use our voices to improve the futures of millions of people.

The network will firstly look at ‘what works’ to help students handle the challenges of moving into higher education and spread good practice from examples of initiatives, such as the University of Huddersfield’s award-winning Flying Start inductions and the University of Portsmouth’s Welcome Ambassadors project, Student Minds’ Transitions and Know Before You Go, as well as measures developed through the Office for Students’ Challenge Competition projects.

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