On Tuesday 6th October 2020, we were delighted to receive a visit from The Duchess of Cambridge to explore what we can do to improve student mental health. Our CEO, Rosie Tressler OBE, raised what we are doing at Student Minds to support the mental health of university students during the pandemic, such as the provision of Student Space. Her Royal Highness took the time to understand and listen to a range of students and staff to find out their experiences of university life right now.
The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated many existing challenges that have an impact on students’ mental health, in addition to creating new ones. We know the transition to university can be a key pressure point in a student’s life at the best of times, without the additional barriers to socialisation and integration that quarantine measures can pose. Existing challenges that students face include academic pressure, loneliness, financial problems, and difficulties accessing care. As such, it is crucial that we get mental health and wellbeing support right for students during the coronavirus pandemic.
This is why we developed Student Space, a new resource to support students through the pandemic. Student Space provides students with a trusted place to:
The University of Derby, who hosted the event, also discussed what they are doing at their university to support their students’ wellbeing through these challenging times, including running initiatives such as peer mentoring. As part of this initiative, nursing students are ‘buddied up’ with fellow students in the year above to provide them with peer support during challenging clinical placements. The university is also providing training to their sports clubs to enable students to support their teammates’ mental health.
We also reflected together on the importance of creating long-term initiatives to support more universities to create whole-university approaches to mental health through the University Mental Health Charter.
At Student Minds, we were elated to be joined by The Duchess of Cambridge and for the Royal Family to show such interest in the challenges facing student mental health today. We were proud to spotlight the hard work going on across the country, at local and national levels, to support mental health in our university communities through the pandemic. We hope that this visit will be the start of a long journey together improving student mental health and wellbeing.
Photos: Richard Richards and Arthur Edwards