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Students need extra resources to support mental health challenges

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Colleges need additional resources to tackle the legacy of the pandemic on student wellbeing, a new report says.

AoC has published its Mental Health Survey Report 2023 which 105 of its members responded to.

The report highlights the impact Covid-19 had on students, with 85% of colleges responding suggesting an increase in mental health needs was due to the pandemic.

Colleges are prioritising student mental health, with 90% of survey respondents appointing a senior mental health lead. In 2021, the Department for Education offered a grant of £1,200 for eligible state-funded schools and colleges in England to train a senior mental health lead to develop and implement a whole school or college approach to mental health and wellbeing, which funding coming to an end on 31 July.

Despite this, the report highlights demand continues to outstrip the supply of services and greater access to community health services and in-college support is needed.

Colleges are increasing their investment in staff development and re-thinking their approach to mental health and wellbeing, the limited funding and challenges in engaging with local support services is impacting the overall effectiveness to an ever more complex array of need.

Jen Hope, AoC mental health policy lead, said:

“Faced with huge disruption, budget restraints and massive uncertainty, colleges have worked hard during these challenging times to support students with their mental health and wellbeing. While this report shows there is more work to do, college staff should be praised for the work they do day in day out to support their students.

“More than 200 colleges have now signed the AoC Mental Health Charter and 90% of college respondents have a designated lead for mental health. Training for staff is growing and mental health is now routinely handled as a strategic issue in colleges, with data recording and regular reporting to governing bodies.”

A copy of the report can be found here.

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