A group of education providers in Wales has published a set of post-16 mental health policy recommendations to better protect and support students’ mental health.
NUS Wales, Universities Wales, ColegauCymru and AMOSSHE, the student services organisation, have drawn up a set of proposals with a strong focus on prevention, early intervention and greater join-up between agencies.
“Students face a unique mix of pressures on their wellbeing, so it’s important that on-campus and NHS mental health services can work together to deliver a range of interventions,” said Becky Ricketts, president of NUS Wales.
“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 wellbeing support throughout your entire education journey.”
These are the key principles on which the post-16 mental health policy recommendations are based:
- Appropriate and effective information sharing between relevant bodies
- An understanding of the roles, remits and responsibilities of educational institutions and statutory health services
- Parity of experience, with students able to access a consistent standard of support regardless of where they live and study
- Additional support for student transitions, such as moving from school to college, or back into learning as adults
- The need for student mental health services to be supported by stable, long-term funding
“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,” said Professor Elizabeth Treasure, chair of Universities Wales.
“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.”
The release of the recommendations was accompanied by publication of a collection of good practice case studies, such as Bangor University SU’s monthly ‘walk and talk’ sessions, connecting people who may be feeling lonely with both each other and the natural world.
“Additional funding made available by the Welsh government during the pandemic has gone towards establishing and enhancing these projects,” says the Universities Wales’ publication. “Continuity of funding is vital in protecting and embedding this good practice.”