Bristol UWE centre to support student mental health

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image captionA new facility will create a meeting place and host support staff

A student centre is being created at the University of West England as part of efforts to improve mental wellbeing.

The university in Bristol says it will convert the former vice-chancellor's office from September.

The facility will provide a meeting place and host out-of-hours support staff as well as a student-led telephone support service.

It is part of strategy responding to a national increase in reported mental health issues among students.

There have been two suicides among the university's students in the past two years.

Vice-chancellor Steve West said while the number of students taking their lives represented "a very small proportion" of the 2.2 million people studying across the UK, it was still vital to reduce that number.

'Break down barriers'

He said: "For some communities, mental health is something that you never talk about.

"We have to break down all of the stigma and all of the barriers.

"I think a big part of this is to ensure people understand their own mental health and that allows us to work with those in real need."

In September, Universities UK - which represents the country's institutions - called on universities to develop individual mental health strategies.

It followed analysis by the Institute of Public Policy Research which suggested almost five times as many students as 10 years ago had disclosed a mental health condition to their university.

At neighbouring Bristol University, where seven students have taken their own lives in the past two years, £1m is being invested to pay for 30 professionals to look out for people who need help.

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