£150,000 cash boost for NI student mental health
Student mental health services in Belfast are to receive a £150,000 boost.
The investment has been announced by Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University.
The pilot project aims to improve the link between local NHS care provision and on-campus support.
A recent NUS-USI student union survey suggested that 78% of students have mental health issues.
The scheme will be the first in Northern Ireland, ensuring that vulnerable students do not slip through gaps in the health system.
The trust and the two universities have each committed to investing £50,000 annually to run the initiative.
There are currently no specific mental health services for the university student population in Northern Ireland.
Prof Paddy Nixon, vice-chancellor of Ulster University said there had been a consistent increase in the number of students using mental health support services: "Our team have worked incredibly hard to respond to this need, but we welcome the additional support and connections that we can build on within this project".
Martin Dillon of the Belfast Trust said the project was designed to take into account the particular characteristics and needs of the student population in Belfast.
"The design of the service will be developed with the involvement of students and ex-students with who have experienced mental ill health," he said.
Queen's vice-chancellor Ian Greer said difficulties in accessing mental health services could arise from students' "transient lifestyle", spending part of the year at university and part of the time at home.
He said the university was happy to invest in "an integrated service that will address those specific challenges and deliver timely and seamless support".