NEWS
10/10/2018 10:02 BST | Updated 10/10/2018 10:29 BST

Exclusive: Mayor Andy Burnham Pledges New Mental Health Services For Universities In Manchester

He brands mental health "the poor relation of the NHS".

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Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham will today announce a new mental health service for universities to make it easier for students to access help regardless of where they live or study.

Students will be able to keep the same GP throughout their student career with the roll-out of a Greater Manchester university student GP passport, the announcement will reveal.

It comes after HuffPost UK revealed many students at universities across the country are struggling to access adequate mental health support.

Burnham will reveal the new measures as he sets out Greater Manchester’s vision of a “21st century NHS” as part of a new model of public service within the city region.

“We have a huge student population – more than any other city in the UK - and we need to do more to support them,” he will say.

“The transition to university can be tough time, with many young people living away from home, family and friends for the first time.

“We also know that around one in five 16 to 24-year-olds experience depression or anxiety.

“Despite this, students are poorly served when it comes to mental health provision.”

Burnham said university timescales and waiting lists for treatment mean in many cases young people have either returned home, dropped out or moved across healthcare trust boundaries before they are offered treatment.

“In Greater Manchester we are developing plans to transform mental health provision for our university students,” he added.

The plans will include developing an integrated, single pathway and hub for all Higher Education students within Greater Manchester.

The mayor said the key features would include a Student Screening Tool to ensure that key student-specific issues are identified.

And he added that trusted assessor status would be agreed between universities and treatment providers, to avoid students having to undergo repeated assessments.

He also pledged the provision of consultation sessions using Skype, Fuze or similar, for discussion of presentations and treatment options.

PA Wire/PA Images

Burnham has described mental health “the poor relation of the NHS” and children’s mental health “the poor relation of the poor relation.”

But he said he recognised the positive changes taking place in Greater Manchester, including improvements to eating disorder services and crisis care.

In his speech, the mayor will speak about a trial scheme which has seen more than 30 schools in Greater Manchester working with the voluntary sector to help children and young people look after their emotional health and wellbeing.

He will also announce Greater Manchester will become the first place in the country to start collating and publishing waiting times data for children and young people’s mental health.

“It will allow us to fully understand the baseline we are working from and how far we need to go to deliver on efficient and effective children and young people’s mental health services across Greater Manchester,” he is expected to say.

“For the first time, devolution has enabled us to work together as a whole system _ from our schools to our universities – to build a conurbation where our children and young people are supported to achieve their full potential.”