Student Mental Health to be supported by Many Hands

Student Mental Health to be supported by Many Hands

17 August 2021

Student Mental Health to be supported by the Many Hands of independent providers

Independent Higher Education (IHE) is pleased to announce that a collaborative bid by seven IHE members has won Office for Students (OfS) funding to support student mental health.

The funding competition aims to find new ways to tackle mental health challenges in higher education and has an overall budget of £3 million, provided by the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Education via the OfS. The Many Hands Project has been awarded £153,900 with matched in-kind funding from each of the project partners.

The project will be led by IHE member the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM), in collaboration with SAE Education, Futureworks, Point Blank Music School, Matrix College of Counselling and Psychotherapy, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, and Regent College London, with specialist and technical expertise provided The Ambassador Platform (TAP) and Applied Inspiration’s SEER (Specialist Evidence, Evaluation and Research) service.

The Many Hands Project will support undergraduate mental health in smaller or specialist providers by creating a digital hub for students. It will allow students from multiple institutions across the UK to easily access a peer-to-peer mental health mentoring service. Focusing on early intervention it aims to support mature, Black, Asian and minority ethnic students and those studying creative subjects.

TAP, the market leader in Experience Communication Management, will provide the technology and the project will be evaluated and monitored by global access and participation specialists Applied Inspiration.

Peer-to-peer mentoring is a proven effective intervention, offering students in difficulty a mentor who has faced similar challenges and experiences. This project will offer a discreet and remote way to intervene early to support student mental health. The collaborative approach will address the barriers to developing and accessing these services in smaller providers.

Kainne Clements, the Executive Chairman of ACM, said:

“We are delighted to be leading the Many Hands Project, working with an innovative group of small and specialist providers. The last 18 months has clearly illustrated how important it is to support student mental health and ACM are relishing the opportunity to further enhance our award-winning student services provision through this project.

Alex Proudfoot, Chief Executive of IHE, said:

“This is a milestone for independent providers as they win a highly prized OfS funding bid for the first time. We are excited to see the results of this innovative project which will harness the agility, drive and commitment to students that are common to independent providers, as well as provide an important case study for future collaboration between our members.

Sophie McCarthy, Student representative on the IHE Board said:

“Active student engagement in developing mental health initiatives is very important. I’m pleased to lead the student advisory group to this project and reporting to the IHE Board on its progress and its real impact on students at these providers.”

Chris Millward, director for fair access and participation at the Office for Students, said: 

“Having a mental health condition should not be a barrier to success in higher education, but for many students this is still the case. Data shows that students reporting a mental health condition are more likely to drop out, less likely to graduate with a first or 2:1, and progress into skilled work or further study – compared to students without a declared condition. We also know that students come to university or college from a range of backgrounds and that their individual journey, and the kind of support they require, is likely to be influenced by their specific circumstances.

“That’s why this funding of targeted interventions for student mental health is so important. By paying attention to the diverse needs of students; universities and colleges can fine-tune the support they offer and ensure that all students, regardless of where they are from, have the best chance possible to succeed.

“Working with the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Education, we are pleased to be able to fund projects across a range universities and colleges targeting a number of priority groups. We look forward to working with these projects to develop and evaluate innovative and collaborative approaches to targeted support for student mental health, and to support the take-up of this learning for the benefit of students in all parts of the sector.”

  • On 17th August 2021