Online mental health support for university students can offer extra help to those affected by pandemic

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9 February 2022

The Student Space website has given university students a helpful extra resource to support their mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report produced by Centre for Mental Health today.

Student Space, by Dr Graham Durcan, is the report of an independent evaluation of Student Space, an online mental health and wellbeing resource developed in 2020 by the UK’s student mental health charity Student Minds. It finds that Student Space offered high quality mental health information, advice and support to students at a time when many needed extra support and access to other wellbeing services was limited.

The report finds that students have faced major challenges to their mental health since March 2020, with more anxiety and lower life satisfaction than the general population. Groups of students facing the biggest risks to their mental health include those from disadvantaged backgrounds, students from racialised communities, students with disabilities and international students.

Student Space works to support students in three ways:

  1. Access dedicated support services, including tailored support for specific groups of students
  2. Information, tools and student stories on navigating life during a pandemic
  3. Help students find what support is available at their university.

The report finds that Student Space offered a high quality, rapid response to a crisis when it was set up in 2020. It provided robust and evidence-based information, tailored to students and produced to a high standard. And it developed over time as evidence about students’ support and advice needs emerged. That included creating additional services and content for groups of students experiencing some of the biggest mental health challenges during the pandemic.

The report says that Student Space should continue to be funded to give students additional support for their mental health, alongside universities’ own mental health and wellbeing services. There is an ongoing need for accessible, readable and targeted mental health advice and signposting for students, and that is likely to last well beyond the most acute phases of the pandemic.

Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sarah Hughes said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has affected millions of people’s mental health. Students have faced major challenges over the last two years. Many have faced isolation, trauma and loss which may cast a long shadow over their lives. Student Space has offered a place of hope for students who are concerned about their mental health and need to know where to go for support. Our report shows the value of this resource and why it is still needed in the aftermath of the crisis.”

Student Minds Programme Manager Louise Goux-Wirth said: “This report demonstrates how needed Student Space is to so many students nationally but also highlights that the impacts of the pandemic will be long lasting. Therefore this targeted work needs to remain a priority. Here at Student Minds, we are particularly proud of the partnerships we have created with tailored services through commissioning bespoke programmes to ensure that our work is truly inclusive of the student community that we serve.”


Download the report

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