Greater Manchester will be the first place in the country to establish a dedicated centre to help support higher education students with mental health needs thanks to a new partnership between the region’s four universities and the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.

One in five 16-24 year olds experience depression or anxiety. The transition to university can be a tough time, with many young people living away from home, family and friends for the first time.

The new service will offer innovative and accessible treatment, looking at digital technology such as virtual clinics, to university students experiencing mental illness, for example eating disorders and severe depression.

Greater Manchester has one of the largest student populations in the country. The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Bolton and the University of Salford’s student body represents around 100,000 people.

The new service will transform mental health provision for university students in Greater Manchester by making sure that it’s easier to get referred, regardless of where someone studies or lives and that young people are supported with the transition to university. Students will also be able to keep the same GP throughout their student career with the roll-out of a Greater Manchester university-student GP passport.

Under the new system, wherever a student presents to the mental health system (NHS, third sector or at university), they would receive a standard assessment. Depending on the result of this, they would then proceed either to university services, or for more specialist intervention at a new centre.

This more integrated up approach will also help to co-ordinate efforts to promote well-being and prevention, and share examples of successful practice. As services will focus specifically on students, planning will be able to take into account important demand factors such as exam times but the experience of the centre will also benefit staff.

The new centre will open in the academic year 2019-20. The plans were developed alongside the core partners and with the help of charities and students’ unions. It will be jointly funded by all the partners.

Dr Sandeep Ranote, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist and children’s mental health lead for Greater Manchester said: “Prioritising student mental health is vital to ensuring that young people and those going back to study later in life get the very best out of university and thrive during their student careers.

“Greater Manchester has the largest university student population in Europe, with significantly increasing reports from our students of mental health difficulties. This can have a devastating impact on the student, their network, the staff supporting them and importantly the student’s future.

“It’s time to treat mental health with the same importance as physical health. Good emotional health is the foundation for future well-being. Developing a dedicated mental health service that provides support from “prevention to prescription” enables us to create the campuses of tomorrow.”

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester said: “Mental health is one of the top issues that students tell us about and we have invested significantly in services at The University Manchester and in this important new initiative.

“The next logical step is to share expertise and resources across the whole region, and create a model that will benefit thousands of people. I am very pleased that The University of Manchester will play an important role in this and I hope that it is an idea that can be used across the whole country.”

Professor Helen Marshall, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Salford, said: “We should never underestimate the welfare needs of our students, so we are delighted to invest in a more comprehensive service to support them.

“We don’t just want our people to be well-educated; we want them to be well.”

Professor George Holmes, President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Bolton, said that the mental health of students was of paramount importance.

Prof Holmes said: "In Bolton we have excellent support mechanisms already in place, as the welfare of our students is our number one priority.

"It is excellent news that Greater Manchester is at the forefront of addressing the issue of students' mental wellbeing and the University of Bolton is proud to be playing a significant part in the initiative."

Professor Malcolm Press, Vice-Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “Students are at the heart of everything we do at Manchester Metropolitan and ensuring their health and wellbeing is a priority. This new centre will play a vital role in addressing the growing issues of mental health problems among young people.

“I am delighted Manchester Metropolitan can be an important member of this partnership between the Greater Manchester universities and the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership - and believe it will provide a model for others to follow.”


Manchester Metropolitan University
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