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British Education Secretary Damian Hinds issued a warning to British universities Thursday after a report highlighted the high level of dropout rates among students. However, we recognise the unique challenges that students face in accessing mental health support and firmly believe that a partnership approach is required to ensure that they are able to get the support and care that they need.

It follows work by the Department for Education to identify four key areas of risk that can affect the mental health of people going to university.

"Juggling challenges like independent studying or managing finances can be hard enough, but with the added element being in a new place, surrounded by new people it can for some be overwhelming", he said.

I'm delighted to have the expertise of the sector backing this vision and joining this taskforce.

The investment, a combined scheme between Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (BHSCT), Queen's University and Ulster University, aims to enhance support services for those living in Belfast who may be struggling with their mental health.

Hinds said: "We have made huge progress in ensuring universities are open to all, with record rates of disadvantaged and underrepresented groups in higher education, but every step we make on access is undermined if a larger number students then drop out of their courses".

"Studying at university can involve a transient lifestyle, with many students who live at university during term time and at home during much of the rest of the year spending significant time from their mental health support, including their registered GP surgery".

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"We should not, though, let a positive national picture mask the situation at some universities and other higher education providers where non-continuation rates are higher than students deserve". Together, we can use our voices to improve the futures of millions of people.

The tool is aimed at all students, and Bennett told The PIE News the companies trials with the universities of Lincoln, Coventry, Exeter and Manchester (Metropolitan) showed worldwide students face unique challenges during periods of mobility.

"Our student led mental health initiative Mind Your Mood, designed and delivered by students, is helping to break down the stigma surrounding mental health and encouraging students to seek the support they need".

Ahead of today's announcement, to coincide with University's Mental Health Day, Mr Hinds has revealed that the taskforce will look at how students moving from sixth-form or college can be better supported.

But research by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) suggests most students want the government to act although even more - 83 per cent - are confident their own institution is in a strong financial position.

"No student starts university thinking they are going to drop out and, whilst in individual circumstances that may be the right thing, it is important that all students feel supported to do their best - both academically and in a pastoral sense".

Following this, Universities UK is now leading a task group to explore how students' families and friends can be better involved in mental health support and care while ensuring the confidentiality rights of students are fully respected.

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