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Support for students’ mental health through Covid-19 revealed


Minister announces Office for Students-backed online mental health programme

A £3 million online programme to boost students’ mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic has been announced by universities minister Michelle Donelan.

In a webinar with the Higher Education Policy Institute on 17 June, Donelan revealed the Student Space platform would offer students in England and Wales “access to vital mental health and wellbeing resources”.

“I urge students to reach out if you need help during this challenging time—make the most of the new platform once available, as well as the range of existing resources out there and support from your university,” she said.

The programme, which launches in July and is funded by the Office for Students and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, will initially run for six months to help plug the gaps in mental health provision for students during the coronavirus pandemic.

The OfS said Student Space would “aim to limit the mental health impact of the pandemic on students and deliver support where it is most needed”. It will offer online resources for students, as well as options for phone or text support and cognitive behavioural therapy.

Elsewhere during the webinar, Hepi director Nick Hillman highlighted a recent OfS consultation on temporary coronavirus powers that “some people read as rather threatening”, and questioned Donelan’s opinion of the regulator.

She said the OfS was “still quite a new organisation” but stressed it had “offered excellent support to the sector”, and its guidance during the coronavirus “has really helped support a number of institutions”.

“I think across every sector and aspect of society, extraordinary things and measures have had to be put in place in response to this virus,” she added.

Commenting on the Student Space programme Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the Office for Students, said it was “vital that universities do all they can to support students effectively—this new funding will bolster that effort and help ensure students have access to the right help where it is needed”.