A NEW specialist service will help university students to achieve their ambitions and receive the help they need to overcome significant mental illness, an event will be told today.

The Greater Manchester university student mental health service pilot has been launched involving the University of Bolton, the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Salford, Royal Northern College of Music and the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.

The service provides students access to professional help for conditions including psychosis, depression, personality disorders and eating disorders.

It is intended to meet the increasing mental health needs of university students and prevent them “falling between the cracks” of university and NHS services.

Around 500 students a year are expected to use the £1.6m service.

The service is provided by Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust from a main clinic in the Oxford Road campus and satellite locations in Salford and Bolton.

Around 40 students have already been seen by the service since the beginning of the autumn term.

A 2018 review by Universities UK found a dramatic increase in the numbers of students seeking help for mental health difficulties, a trebling in the drop-out rate and evidence that only a third of students would know how to access mental health services.

Students have reported finding it difficult to access NHS mental health services away from home.

Students will receive a standard assessment from their university’s welfare service and, if appropriate, they will be referred on for more specialist intervention at the new centre.

As the mental health of a student improves, they will also be managed and supported by their university’s welfare service when the student has been discharged from NHS treatment.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “Greater Manchester is using devolution to rethink and re-prioritise mental health support for young people.

“We recently became the first place to publish waiting time information for children and young people’s mental health, and introduced independent counselling into schools with our ground-breaking mental health support programme.

“We are now becoming the first place to introduce a new way of supporting university students.

“Our unique devolution deal gives us the ability to rethink the way we help young people navigate an increasingly complex world.

Dr Kondal Reddy Kandadi, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Bolton, said: “The health and wellbeing of our students is our number one priority and this pioneering new service is another example of how we are striving to provide the best and most appropriate mental health support for them.”