Sarah Newton, the Conservative MP for Truro and Falmouth, has welcomed new government measures to ensure universities dramatically improve the mental health support they provide for students.
Universities Minister Sam Gyimah announced a series of measures at a mental health summit in Bristol yesterday.
The summit brought together universities, higher education institutions, student groups and leading charities for the first time to discuss how to improve mental health support for students.
Mrs Newton wrote to NHS chiefs in Cornwall earlier this month to seek assurances over mental health services for students in her constituency.
It followed the deaths of two students on Falmouth University’s Penryn campus last year and a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) that found services run by Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust required improvement.
The package of measures announced by Mr Gyimah include:
* Launching a new University Mental Health Charter to drive up standards in promoting mental health and wellbeing.
* Setting up a working group to review the transition students face when going to university to ensure they have the right support, particularly in the critical first year of being away from home.
* Looking at an opt-in requirement for universities, so they have permission to share information on a student’s mental health with parents or a trusted person.
Mrs Newton said: “It is vital that Falmouth and all other universities step up to the plate and ensure students have access to high-quality mental health services.
“With Falmouth’s student population growing, so is the demand for mental health support.
“I hope the university supports these new measures while continuing to work closely with the NHS and other organisations to improve services and outcomes for students.”
Mr Gyimah said: “We want mental health support for students to be a top priority for the leadership of all our universities.
“Progress can only be achieved with their support. I expect them to get behind this important agenda as we otherwise risk failing an entire generation of students.
“This is not a problem that can be solved overnight, but we need to do a better job of supporting students than is happening at the moment.”