Universities should be reaching out to students’ emergency contacts when it is clear that they are at risk of a mental health crisis, the Government's Education Secretary has said.

Damian Hinds has written to the chair of a roundtable on student mental health, asking the sector to 'maintain the focus built up in recent months' following the Student Mental Health Summit held at the University of the West of England in June 2018.

An event hosted by Universities UK (UUK) today (4 December) will aim to develop advice for universities around consent for disclosure of severe student difficulties to third parties. 

"Ensuring that university students, many of whom will be leaving home for the first time, are supported is a key challenge for the department and the higher education sector as a whole," Damian Hinds said.

"Our universities are world leading in so many areas and I want them to be the best in the world for support and pastoral care as well. Ensuring that universities get better at reaching out to family members if a student is struggling with mental health is a big step along the road to delivering that ambition."

"I want to build on the good work done in this area and encourage the sector to work together to find a clear way forward so young people can get the support they need to thrive in higher education."

In a recent survey for higher education providers, 75 percent of applicants to higher education said they expected universities to contact a parent or guardian in situations where they are faced with serious challenges relating to their mental health.