Exeter University receives mental health funding

£3.7 million for adolescent wellbeing research

Researchers at Exeter University are exploring new ways of helping students with their mental health in a £3.7 million project.

Clinical trials will look at how students with mild-to-moderate symptoms can use digital self-help tools. Those with more serious issues will need greater professional support. The team will also develop guidance, courses and tools to promote student wellbeing that can be easily be scaled across higher education. The project involves the University of Exeter, University of Oxford, Southampton University, Cardiff University, Newcastle University and King’s College London.

Professor Ed Watkins, from the University of Exeter, said: “Addressing mental health and wellbeing in university students is a growing priority – rates of difficulties have been increasing, with this further exacerbated by the impact of the COVID pandemic, and beyond the capacity of existing services.

“Whilst most universities are adopting some version of a stepped care model combining health promotion, prevention, self-help and professional counselling and therapy services, this model has not been rigorously evaluated and we don’t know what aspects or combinations of the model work best for which students. This programme will provide a unique opportunity to rigorously evaluate this approach to develop an evidence-based, inclusive, enhanced approach to improve student well-being that can be applied across the HE sector.”

The funding is one of seven to be funded under UKRI’s £24 million investment into adolescent mental health.

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