Black Country Healthcare’s Recovery College is working in partnership with the University of Wolverhampton to develop a new mental health resource for students who are working on placements.

The University was successful in securing over £180,000 funding from the Office for Students (OfS) and will be working in partnership to pick up the pace of vital mental health support services for students who are working on placements.

The Recovery College will work with university staff and the Students’ Union to develop, test and deliver an innovative online suite of tools to support students in managing their own mental health.

PACE - A co-explored and co-created solution to address the mental health difficulties of students who undertake placement learning’ is part of the mental health funding competition programme: Using innovation and intersectional approaches to target mental health support for students, funded by the Office for Students. The Office for Students is the independent regulator for higher education in England. Their aim is to ensure that every student, whatever their background, has a fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers.

The funding was offered to develop and test approaches that enable a more joined up service between the higher education and health sectors. The proposed project will put students at the heart of the partnership.

The two-year pilot project, which will start immediately, will focus on three groups of students studying for Nursing, Primary Education and Engineering degree courses.

Kerry Wilkes, Principal at The Recovery College, Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for us and our students to share our philosophy, ethos, principles and practise, and we are delighted to be partners in The Pace Project.

“Co- production (co-creation) is at the heart of all we do and is weaved into our Recovery College at every level.

“Reducing stigma, tackling barriers and providing our students with hope, opportunity and choice is part of our mission. We look forward to engaging with all and working towards the shared goal of creating a toolkit to enable students to flourish and grow, effectively manage and be supported with any mental health difficulties in a way that is empowering and free from barriers and stigma.”

Clare Dickens, Academic Lead in Mental Health at the University as well as the Chair of City of Wolverhampton’s Suicide Prevention Stakeholders Forum, said: “It’s clear that the emerging impact of the pandemic on students’ mental health poses both challenges and opportunities. We are absolutely delighted to have secured funding to develop an online toolkit which will aim to allow students to flourish and grow within their academic and practice-based learning.

“Co-creation is at the heart of the proposal and students will be engaged throughout the life of the project from concept and development through to testing and evaluation.

“Our priority will be to look at intersectional considerations based on the profile of the students in our target group to tailor provision accordingly.  Beyond the project, the tool will be adapted and rolled out to other courses and made available to other