Post-16 education sector launches blueprint for supporting student mental health in Wales
Post-16 education providers have joined together to outline a call for education and statutory health services to work in partnership to protect students’ mental health. This key ask is published today as part of a set of policy recommendations designed to further improve mental health services in the country’s colleges and universities.
Made up of NUS Wales, Universities Wales, ColegauCymru and AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation, the working group behind the recommendations demonstrates an important example of collaboration across tertiary education and was set up to develop some key principles for Welsh Government to consider embedding in mental health and well-being policy for students in post-16 education.
Taking into consideration the current Programme for Government - including prioritising investment in mental health, and service redesign promoting a ‘no wrong door’ approach to mental health support - the recommendations published today have a strong focus on prevention, early intervention and greater join up between agencies.
The recommendations are based around a set of key principles including:
- Parity of experience: students should be able to access a consistent standard of support, regardless of where they live and study
- Appropriate and effective information sharing between relevant bodies
- An understanding of the roles, remits and responsibilities of educational institutions and statutory health services
- Additional support for student transitions - for example as they move from school to college, college to university, from education to employment, or back into learning as adults
- The need for student mental health services to be supported by stable, long-term funding.
Hefin David MS, Chair of the Senedd’s Cross Party Group on Universities, said:
"When the Cross Party Group on Universities discussed student health and well-being we saw positive examples of the work delivered by colleges and universities across Wales, while also gaining a clear sense of the scale of the need.
“I’m pleased to see the Cross Party Group’s conversations led to the delivery of this work with the higher and further education sector coming together to identify opportunities for improvement in the provision of mental health support for students across Wales.
“It is essential that education and health care providers are able to work together to support students, and the Cross Party Group on Universities will continue to advocate for Welsh Government’s backing in this important area.”
Becky Ricketts, NUS Wales President, said:
“Students face a unique mix of pressures on their well-being, so it’s important that on-campus and NHS mental health services can work together to deliver a range of interventions. These recommendations, developed by the sector in partnership with students from across post-16 education, have the potential to boost existing services in universities and colleges, embed good practice across the sector, and make Wales a standard-bearer on student mental health.
“It’s important that student mental health services continue to be backed by long-term funding to make sure that no matter who you are or where you study in Wales, you have access to timely and tailored mental health and well-being support throughout your entire education journey.”
Ben Lewis, Chair of AMOSSHE Wales said:
“University student support professionals are an important part of the partnerships we need to grow to provide the best possible opportunities and outcomes for students in Wales. These policy recommendations represent an opportunity to create a new approach as we move beyond the pandemic.
“We know demand and expectation is high and increasing. This provides a direction for us to work together with government, the NHS, funders and other partners to take action now to address this.”
Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Chair of Universities Wales said:
“The health and wellbeing of students is a top priority for universities in Wales, and these principles, if implemented, can play an important role in ensuring that students get the support they need at the right time and in the right way.
"This is an important example of collaboration across post-16 education of the type that the Tertiary Education and Research Bill hopes to encourage. We will continue to work in close partnership with our colleagues across tertiary education, and with statutory health services, to deliver a proactive approach to keeping students mentally healthy.”
ColegauCymru Active Wellbeing Group Chair Simon Pirotte said:
“This is an important piece of work where key players in post-16 provision in Wales have come together to tackle head on some of the challenges facing our post-16 learners. We look forward to working with the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing and Welsh Government to progress this agenda.”