Funding will target students who might be at greater risk of mental ill health or face barriers to getting support.

Student groups most at risk of poor mental health will benefit from more targeted support through a £1million government funding boost, it was announced on University Mental Health Day.

The funding will create new projects to support groups of students research suggests could be more ‘at risk’ of developing a mental health condition, such as black or ethnic minority students, those from disadvantaged backgrounds, LGBT+ students or those with a disability.

The money, provided by the Department for Health and Social Care, will go to the universities regulator the Office for Students (OfS), who is inviting bidders to submit proposals that will target and help students who might be at greater risk of mental ill health or who may face barriers to getting support.

In a 2019 survey, 17% of students reported having a mental health condition (up from 12% in 2016) and one in four students say they often or always feel lonely, according to a report by HEPI.

OfS data has highlighted how outcomes for some student groups are more likely to be impacted by mental health problems. For example, the degree attainment gap between black and white students with a reported mental health condition is 26.8 percentage points.

Successful projects will also target groups of students who might face barriers in accessing support, like carers, part-time and international students and those on placements as part of their course.

The projects will also be judged on how they use innovative and technological approaches to addressing mental health issues, in line with the new NHS drive for improvement in digital support.

The Government also has an ambitious programme supporting good mental health in schools and colleges, implementing a range of measures outlined in the 2018 Green Paper. This includes introducing new Mental Health Support Teams, training for mental health leads in schools and colleges, and the £9.3 million Link Programme to ensure more joined up care with specialist NHS services.

This is alongside all children in schools being taught how to look after their mental wellbeing through compulsory relationships and health education, before university.