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Lecturer in Psychology of Education Dr Felicity Sedgewick granted funding from the Office for Students to support student mental health

Dr Felicity Sedgewick, Lecturer in Psychology of Education, School of Education

23 August 2021

Felicity Sedgewick’s collaborative project will develop training for university staff to help them better understand and support autistic students, with the goal of preventing worsening mental health among this often-vulnerable group.

We are pleased to announce that School of Education Lecturer in the Psychology of Education, Dr Felicity Sedgewick, has been awarded project funding from the Office for Students to support the mental health of autistic students.

Of 2.38 million UK university students, 2.4 per cent are autistic. Of those nearly 60,000, around 80 per cent will have clinical anxiety, up to 70 per cent clinical depression and a third will attempt suicide.

There is currently a huge unmet need for tailored mental health support in this group, who are more likely to drop out regardless of academic ability, often due to increased demands compounded by a lack of knowledgeable support staff.

With investment from the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Education, the OfS has been able to award £3 million in funding to 18 projects, which include a range of priority groups of students.

In October 2020, the Office for Students launched a new funding competition to support students with characteristics identified as increasing the risk of poor mental health and students who may experience barrier to accessing support due to their course, mode of study or other characteristics.

As part of the assessment process, bids were reviewed by an external panel and in August 2021, 18 successful projects were announced, including Dr Sedgewick’s project which seeks to address this problem by developing, delivering and evaluating the first Autistic Mental Health training programme for university staff in the UK. The details of the funded projects can be found on the OfS website.

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