Heriot-Watt joins innovative ‘Thrive Edinburgh’ partnership

Universities UK’s Stepchange Framework looks at student mental health and wellbeing through four ‘domains’ of Learn, Support, Work and Live. Universities currently resource a wide range of services to support those experiencing mental illness, as the following example shows.

Heriot-Watt University is working as part of the ‘Thrive Edinburgh’ partnership to improve academic and health outcomes for students with mental health difficulties in the Edinburgh and Lothian region.

The alliance seeks to better integrate student mental health care by linking up with NHS services and the third sector to incorporate campus mental health support with local primary care and specialist mental health services. The alliance, which started in May 2019, is in collaboration with other Edinburgh universities and local NHS services.

The project is based on an innovative and ground-breaking collaborative initiative in Greater Manchester, which has seen local NHS mental health services delivering bespoke, integrated treatment and care ‘on campus’ for students at several local universities. The Edinburgh area already has strong elements of good practice that provide a robust platform for systemic service improvements, but the Thrive Edinburgh partnership has identified the gaps in local mental health service provision for students in the region.

Thrive Edinburgh is now working to see how service quality and outcomes for students can be improved. A future strategic service re-design is under review and recommendations so far include the development of an information sharing protocol and an agreement on a collaborative care pathway across HEIs and NHS mental health services. This is essential work that will help with the development of an integrated student mental health pathway and service to the benefit of all Edinburgh and Lothian-based students.