A new NHS mental health service for all students living in Cardiff and studying at one of the city’s universities was officially launched at the Senedd last night.
The Mental Health University Liaison Service (MHULS), which has been running since April 2022, sets out to provide solutions to the growing demand and risk surrounding student mental health and is aimed at students with moderate mental health problems or more complex long-standing mental health issues.
The MHULS specifically addresses an identified gap between a university’s mandate for supporting students and the threshold for gaining access to services provided by the NHS, where students often require an NHS referral or assessment.
NHS clinicians make up the MHULS team and are based within student support services on university campuses to help bridge this gap by providing students with a means to be assessed, referred and guided through NHS services, while ensuring universities are involved in ongoing support plans.
Support includes detailed mental health assessments, completing safety plans for students, onwards referral and signposting to other services, as well as attending review meetings with relevant stakeholders.
After using the MUHLS service, one student stated: "I’ve been back and forth with nothing happening until now. Nobody ever understood the whole picture in the way that you [MHULS] do."
Another student said it helped being "listened to and heard".
Students can access the new service through referral from their University Student Services department, Adult Liaison Psychiatry, or their GP.
The pilot has been developed by the South East Wales Mental Health Partnership, which includes Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, the University of South Wales, and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Phase one of the pilot is available to students over 18 who are studying at one of these institutions and living in the catchment of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.
For students who live outside the Cardiff area, the project is improving links with neighbouring health boards including Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board and Swansea Bay University Health Board, to improve the ability to refer to the appropriate mental health services as needed by the student.
Phase one of the pilot has been funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) until December 2022. Plans for continuation of the work are being developed by the partnership.
Claire Morgan, Cardiff University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor, Education and Student Experience, said: "We are extremely proud to be a part of such an important project that is improving access to mental health support for our students.
"Working together with health providers and other universities across the Cardiff region, we want to ensure that our students get access to the very best support for whatever difficulties they are facing, and that the service is both seamless and as stress-free for them as possible.
"It is extremely pleasing to see that our students are already reporting a positive experience of using this service and that they feel valued, understood, and supported."
Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle, said: "Everyone has the right to a happy education experience. I am pleased to see the official launch of the Mental Health University Liaison Service, which is already making a difference to the lives of students in Cardiff. Supporting students’ mental health and wellbeing is essential to ensuring they get a good education, and it’s great to see partners working together to achieve that."
The Senedd event is taking place on Tuesday 21 June at 6:15pm and will include talks from: Carolyn Donoghue, Chair, South East Wales Mental Health Partnership; Rob Humphreys, HEFCW Chair of Council; Becky Ricketts, NUS Wales President; Professor Ceri Phillips, Vice Chair, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board; Katie Hill, Clinical Lead, Mental Health University Liaison Service; Jeremy Miles, MS, Minister for Education and Welsh Language.
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