Joint working between providers and the NHS to support student mental health

What we're doing

We're taking a variety of actions to support joint working on student mental health, including providing funding to providers, commissioning an independent action learning project and publishing case studies from OfS-funded mental health projects.

Partnership working

On 20 June 2022 the Department for Education and the Department for Health and Social Care held a ministerial summit on joint working between the higher education and health sector to support student mental health. The summit explored new and innovative models of joined up care to support students. Attendees included representatives from the OfS, NHS England and from OfS-funded mental health challenge competition projects.

Funding in 2022-23

We've allocated £15 million to higher education providers this academic year (2022–23), through formula funding. The twin aims of this funding are to give additional support to students transitioning from school or college to university, and for universities and colleges to develop effective joint working between their student support services and local NHS mental health services, to ensure students are referred quickly and appropriately.

This also complements £33 million funding from NHS England in 2022–23 allocated towards improving the quality and accessibility of mental health services for young adults, as well as the wider NHS Long Term Plan in the expansion of mental health services. The NHS Long Term Plan committed all local NHS systems to establish a comprehensive offer for 0–25-year-olds that reaches across mental health and physical health services for children, young people and young adults by the end of 2023–24. This includes ensuring that young adults aged 18–24, including students, are better able to access support for their mental health.

This complementary funding means there is financial support available this year for both higher education and NHS providers to develop their partnership working and better integrated care pathways for students.

Find out more about our funding for 2022-23

Action learning project

Action learning is a process by which a group of people meet with the intention of solving common issues or challenges over a set period, as well as to support their own – and their organisation’s – learning and development.

To facilitate joint working in supporting students’ mental health, we have commissioned Nous Group to run a series of action learning sets based in the seven NHS regions during the 2022-23 academic year.

The action learning sets will bring together practitioners from higher education providers and NHS partners to reflect on current issues in joint working, consider solutions and share effective practices or key learning. The aim is to enable higher education support services and NHS providers to build strategic relationships, learn lessons in real time and to disseminate learning and guidance to the higher education and health care sectors.

See the final evaluation, detailing main takeaways from the project

Publishing case studies and resources

We have published case studies on NHS and higher education sector joint working from our mental health challenge competition projects. We have also signposted to relevant resources for higher education providers.

Explore the case studies and resources
Published 12 July 2022
Last updated 29 November 2023
29 November 2023
Link added to final evaluation report on joint working between providers and the NHS to support student mental health.
15 November 2022
Information about how to get involved in the action learning project added.

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