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Student Mental Health

Volume 717: debated on Monday 4 July 2022

I have been relentlessly focused on this area, allocating £15 million to student mental health services to support the transition from school to university via the Office for Students. I have worked with the Office for Students to deliver and to keep student space and with the Department of Health and Social Care. I held a summit just last week with the Minister for Care and Mental Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Gillian Keegan), investing £3 million in bridging the gaps between NHS and university services.

During Prime Minister’s questions recently, the whole House and the Prime Minister joined in wearing blue ribbons as part of the anti-bullying campaign for the Diana Award. This week I am writing to all schools in Watford to raise awareness of an anti-bullying roundtable I will be hosting for students and teachers to share their experiences of tackling bullying. Will my right hon. Friend share what other measures the Government are taking to tackle bullying and to support students’ mental health more broadly?

My hon. Friend has done an exceptional job of caring for his Watford constituents’ mental health, and I am sure that all hon. Members can get behind and copy his first aider programme. Bullying can have long-term effects on mental health. Between 2021 and 2023, the Department is providing more than £2 million to organisations, including the Diana Award, to support schools to tackle bullying.

One in six kids in my constituency struggles with their mental health; it is a deeply concerning situation. What plans does the Minister have to increase specialist mental healthcare support in every school, so that all kids in my constituency have access to the support that they need?

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that this agenda is incredibly important, and the Government care passionately about it. As a ministerial team, we are focused on supporting mental health and wellbeing. We are funding training for senior mental health leads in two thirds of state schools and colleges by March 2023 and in all by 2025.

If I may, I start by offering a warm welcome to students from Myton School in my constituency, who join us in the Gallery.

In a recent survey by the mental health charity HUMEN, 57% of students said that they had access to university mental health services, while the charity Mind reports that one in five students has been diagnosed with a mental health condition. The Minister was appointed two and a half years ago. Can she honestly say that she has successfully dealt with the crisis on our campuses?

We have, of course, had a pandemic in that time. The Government have ensured that we place mental health at the top of the agenda, and we work in partnership with universities to deliver those services. A summit that I held with the Department of Health and Social Care last week shows that we are working in a joined-up way to ensure that no student falls between the cracks.