Government plans to invest up to £3 million over the next academic year to make student mental health services more ‘joined up’ will only scratch the surface of the increased support needed.

A Freedom of Information request we carried out found universities spend an average of just £39 per student on mental health support. This is particularly disappointing when compared to £2,690 per student spent on marketing.

The new government scheme will create regional partnerships between university and NHS mental health services aiming to reduce delays faced by students when they try to access mental health services after moving away from home to university.

While this is welcomed, it won’t tackle the growing mental health need our members are seeing among students.

This new investment, across universities in England, works out as around £1 per student, according to the NUS.

It will not do enough to address the lack of funding in counselling and similarly vital mental health services, as highlighted by our research.

Qualified professionals

While it’s important NHS and university services are linked up, we also need vital investment to ensure there are sufficient qualified professionals employed to offer accessible mental health support directly to students.

Jo Holmes, our Children, Young People and Families Lead, said: “This will do very little to support the growing number of students who are struggling with their mental health at such a crucial time in their life. University is often the first time they’re away from home, friends and family; they’re facing substantial changes in the lives and new personal and academic challenges.

“We know demand for university mental health services has soared in recent years – but these plans will only scratch the surface of what’s needed.

Woeful level of funding

“Our own research highlights the woeful level of funding being invested in crucial mental health services to support students. We would like to see investment in professional, qualified counsellors working in embedded counselling services, ensuring students have access to the right support, at the right time. They’re best placed to support students in this specific university environment, with issues that are particular to this client group.”

We’ll be sharing our view on this announcement with the Government as part of our response to its consultation on its 10-year mental health strategy.

The ‘mental health hub’ plans were launched by the departments for education and health and social care at a roundtable event that highlighted projects at universities that already connect NHS and university services and offer students personalised support.