Locally and nationally there is a reported increase in university students experiencing mental health difficulties. There are many documented reasons for this but debt, social media and an increasingly competitive job market are widely cited as adding to the pressures of study.
We have six universities across Wessex, supporting over 90,000 students. Therefore, university students make up a considerable proportion of our population:
- 14% of the total population of Southampton;
- 11% of the total population of Portsmouth;
- 12% of the total population of Bournemouth;
- 6% of the total population of Winchester.
All of our Universities are reporting increased demand for mental health services and local data demonstrates that the largest cohort of people attending the Emergency Department (ED) with mental health difficulties are aged between 20 and 24 years old.
There is an opportunity to ensure that health services and universities work more closely together to facilitate better mental health provision.
We have worked in partnership with universities, primary care, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), provider organisations and GP Practices to explore the challenges and implement best practice solutions.
We Have Also...
- Analysed Mental Health related ED attendance data for patients registered at GP Practices most frequently used by university students.
- Used data to start new conversations between universities, GP practices, students, commissioners, and local mental health services.
- Led a working group with universities and mental health commissioners to understand challenges and share good practice.
- Encouraged collaboration, paving the way for investment in new services and improved ways of working.
- Utilised links with Public Health to ensure that the student demographic are now considered within wider suicide prevention plans.
- Shared good practice across the NHS and universities, such as...
- The use of consent forms for information sharing;
- Innovative models for delivering flexible counselling services;
- The integration of Community Psychiatric Nurses (CPNs) into student primary care services;
- Identifying a link-person so that universities can connect more easily with Community Mental Health Teams (CMHTs).
- Carried out an audit in two university linked GP practices to explore both the physical and mental health related reasons why students attend ED. This has lead to:
- Inclusion of posters in the Halls of Residence to highlight ‘which health services to use when’;
- Additional promotion of the local Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) for supporting physical health; highlighting the conditions treated, opening times, and location relative to university bus routes.