TASO is working with The Centre for Education and Youth (CfEY) on a project that will help us better understand how to support learners with mental health concerns succeed in Higher Education (HE).

The project will begin with a rapid evidence review of relevant literature around how mental health may be driving or perpetuating equality gaps in HE outcomes, and whether interventions exist to combat these inequalities. To support the findings of this review, CfEY will be carrying out a consultation with a wide range of stakeholders across the HE and FE sector to explore which mental health interventions are currently being used to address inequalities and how they are being measured and evaluated. The consultation will consist of a survey and roundtable discussions.

Having an understanding of the evidence and where gaps lie in existing research will help shape the next phase of the project, for which we will decide which interventions to prioritise for impact evaluation.

The project marks the beginning of TASO’s work in this area, after announcing its new Theme 4 (mental health and disability) earlier this year. The decision to commission projects on mental health and disability came as a result of a prioritisation process which included consultation with a range of sector stakeholders.

CfEY is delighted to be partnering with TASO on this important project to identify what works in supporting student mental health in Higher  Education. Before the pandemic hit, the UK was already in the midst of a mental health crisis, with services for young people facing significant backlogs. The impact of Covid-19 has made improvements in mental health support more important than ever. Higher education students may also face additional challenges that can impact on mental health and wellbeing. Experiences such as moving away from home and juggling academic and social pressures make it vital to offer effective services at this time. Covid-19’s disruption of young people’s HE studies has only made this more crucial, and we look forward to supporting developments in this area.”

Alix Robertson, Associate, The Centre for Education and Youth.

Whilst there is existing evidence on interventions to support student mental health in HE, it’s imperative that we better understand how mental health is maintaining or exacerbating equality gaps in HE outcomes, such as attainment and retention. CfEY are committed to generating evidence in this space and we are very happy to be working with them to uncover how access to and efficacy of mental health interventions may vary for different sub-groups of students. It’s exciting to be working so closely with the sector on this and we welcome stakeholder’s input to aid our understanding.”

Sarah Chappell, Research Officer and project lead at TASO.

CfEY was selected after an open call for partners. All applications were assessed by the TASO Research and Evaluation Team.

The consultation will be taking place with key stakeholders between the 11th and 14th January. If you work for a HE provider (including universities, FE colleges, and specialist institutions) and would like to join a roundtable discussion on the topic, please email CfEY’s Project Lead, Alix Robertson.

TASO will be reporting on the evidence review and consultation findings in May 2022. Phase 2 of this project will begin in April 2022, with findings due later in the year.