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Improving mental health support for international students

Improving mental health support for international students

The University is helping to develop a sector-wide approach to supporting the mental health of international students coming to the UK.

The project, one of ten funded by £6 million from the Office for Students, will develop a new set of guidelines and a practical toolkit that will help higher education colleagues develop their own approach to supporting international students in the UK.

Chris Warrington, Head of Student Support at the University of Leeds, said: “Starting study at a new university is an exciting time but may also bring challenges. For international students, adapting to a new country may bring many more, including cultural differences and language barriers, and students may find it useful to access support services. 

This project will examine how higher education institutions can continue to work with international students to establish support that is sensitive to different cultural needs and values.

Chris Warrington, Head of Student Support

“This project will examine how higher education institutions can continue to work with international students to establish support that is sensitive to different cultural needs and values. The best practice guidance will then be shared across the whole HE sector.”

Leeds is in the top 40 most international universities in the world: every year more than 9,000 international students study at the University, coming from more than 170 countries.

The University’s Student Counselling and Wellbeing facility offers a range of services to enable students to manage the difficulties that may be preventing them from achieving their personal or academic potential.

This includes 24/7 online peer and professional support and a range of group and individual sessions, working with Leeds University Union and local NHS services.

The Global Community network at the University helps international students to feel at home in Leeds, and Leeds University Union offers support through student advisors, a drop in centre and opportunities through its 331 clubs or societies.

The Feeling at Home in Leeds online guides and group workshops help students to settle in, adapt to changes and make the most of all the opportunities for learning and personal growth. 

Matt Port, Welfare Officer at Leeds University Union, said: “This project is an amazing opportunity to look into the ways that international students aren’t getting an equitable experience on UK campuses. I’m glad to see how we can work together across our respective organisations and make steps towards supporting all students during their time at University.”

The work will be led by the University of Nottingham in partnership with Leeds, Student Minds – the UK’s student mental health charity based at Leeds University Union – Campuslife, and SOAS University of London.

Rosie Tressler, CEO of Student Minds, said: “Now, more than ever, all organisations that interact with international students need to identify whether we are doing enough to address the added barriers and challenges students face when in a new country with new systems to navigate.

“We’re delighted to be working with Nottingham, Leeds and SOAS – three universities and Students’ Unions with diverse international populations, exciting ideas and real commitment to improving the student experience for international students. Together, with a variety of additional partners, we’re excited to tackle the issues in both a ground-up and strategic way for the benefit of the whole sector.”

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