The UK’s first mental health centre for students is opening in Manchester in 2019
Students from UoM, MMU, Bolton and Salford will have exclusive access to the service
University students in Greater Manchester will have access to the UK's first regional student mental health referral centre, scheduled to open in the 2019/20 academic year.
The four universities involved in the scheme are the University of Manchester, the University of Salford, Manchester Metropolitan University, and the University of Bolton. Their combined student body adds up to around 100,000 people.
The location of the new centre is still unknown. Although the Royal Northern College of Music is not involved as a core partner, its students will have access.
Working in partnership with local NHS services, students with significant mental illness can be referred to the dedicated centre from wherever they first access support.
Students that present mental health issues to NHS services such as their GP, university mental health services, or third-sector services will all receive a standard assessment. From this, students with complex or significant mental health needs will be referred to the new dedicated centre. Students with less complex or severe mental health needs will continue to access existing university and NHS services, such as counselling.
Speaking exclusively to The Manchester Tab, a University of Manchester spokesperson said the new centre is "an exciting and innovative response to student mental health needs."
Students will also be able to keep the same GP throughout university with the roll-out of a student GP passport scheme.
It's the first service of its kind in the UK, made possible by health powers being devolved to the Greater Manchester city region back in 2014.
This created the "Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership", which oversees the region's health budget and is working with the five universities to "transform mental health provision for university students in Greater Manchester".
A statement released by the University of Manchester said: "The new service will offer innovative and accessible treatment, looking at digital technology such as virtual clinics, to university students experiencing mental illness, for example eating disorders and severe depression.
"The new service will transform mental health provision for university students in Greater Manchester by making sure that it’s easier to get referred, regardless of where someone studies or lives and that young people are supported with the transition to university."
The University of Manchester told The Manchester Tab that this is an additional resource and won't replace any existing services. A spokesperson said: "It's an additional resource from the Greater Manchester universities and Greater Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Partnership and won’t replace existing services. It will be accessible by referral from either Uni Services or NHS services and is aimed at students with significant mental illness.
"We have always worked in tandem, especially with students with severe or significant illness. This joint working will continue and be enhanced, with referral into and out of the new service done in consultation between Uni Services and the new provision.
"Also there will be – as there currently are – many cases of co-working, where students will be supported by both Uni Services and NHS services working together."