Duchess of Cambridge visits University of Derby to hear how students are coping

The Duchess of Cambridge visited University of Derby to hear how the Coronavirus pandemic has affected the lives of students. The visit ties in with World Mental Health Day on Saturday 10th October. Catherine met with staff and students to learn about mental health resources the university are providing.

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Students Husna Hanif and Laura Oliver, 18, told Catherine how they had “kept busy” but it was “hard not seeing friends”.

The Duchess asked if there was enough backing at the university, to which Ms Oliver replied: “There’s so much support.” Kate replied: “That’s great to hear.”

The Duchess’ visit comes after a surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks among students at university, since they returned to campuses to resume learning. This has led to students having to self-isolate in their halls. The situation has also shone a light on the mental health of students, some of whom are in new cities, far from their families.

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Catherine spoke to Rosie Tressler, CEO of Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity. Student Minds are launching a new initiative called Student Space. The new resource created to support students during the pandemic, which offers information and direct help by phone and text. The service is available 24/7.

The text service using trained volunteers is delivered in partnership with Shout. The charity is an initiative from the Royal Foundation’s Heads Together mental health campaign. Last year, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge celebrated Shout counsellors, with William revealing he is a counsellor for the charity.

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Gareth Hughes, who is also a Clinical Lead for Student Minds, said: “Student mental health is a significant issue in higher education and the University of Derby is proud of its reputation as being at the forefront of supporting and improving student mental health.

“We have worked hard to develop our whole university approach, taking proactive steps to develop students’ ability to maintain and improve their own wellbeing and creating a learning environment that is inclusive and supportive for our students.”

The Duchess of Cambridge at the University of Derby.b During the visit, ahead of World Mental Health Day, Kate met students to hear how the pandemic has affected university life, and what national measures have been put in place to support student mental health.

Catherine was also informed that nursing students have been paired up with fellow students in the year above to provide them with peer support during clinical placements.

The visit concluded University’s Sports Centre, where the Duchess met with the President of the Union of Students, and members of the Union’s Sports Societies to talk about the Peer Assisted Learning Scheme and how sport has helped with their mental wellbeing.

Professor Kathryn Mitchell added: “We are honoured to have been able to welcome Her Royal Highness to the University of Derby and extremely proud to be recognised for the work the University is doing to support student mental health, particularly during these challenging times.

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