On Tuesday 6 October, Universities UK, which represents 139 institutions including the University of Derby, released new guidance on how to support the physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of students who are currently self-isolating.
This guidance includes ensuring that students who are self-isolating have access to basic necessities including food, toilet paper and laundry services, Universities UK states.
Over the past few weeks, an increase in coronavirus cases has resulted in thousands of students having to self-isolate in their university halls, including students at Manchester Metropolitan, Glasgow University and Northumbria University.
Some students in self-isolation have been hanging signs from their windows claiming to not have food, with the National Union of Students warning that the mental health of young people may suffer if they are “trapped in halls”.
On the same day Universities UK released its new checklist on supporting those in self-isolation, the duchess spoke to students at the University of Derby, asking them how they have been feeling throughout the virus outbreak.
Catherine was briefed by Student Minds, the UK's student mental health charity, with her first discussion taking place in a socially-distanced circle at the university's main Kedleston Road site.
The royal asked representatives of Student Minds if there has been an “increase in awareness” among students of the resources available to them for mental health support.
Wearing a floral face mask as she walked through the main lobby of the building, the duchess spoke to 18-year-old students Husna Hanif and Laura Oliver, who said that while they “kept busy” during lockdown, they found it “hard not seeing friends”.
Ms Oliver told the duchess that there is “so much support” at the university, to which the royal responded: “That’s great to hear.”
Catherine learnt about how nursing students have been paired up with students in the year above, so that they have support when going on clinical placements.
The University of Derby’s sports societies have also been trained to provide mental health support for student athletes.
The duchess was also told about Students Minds’ Student Space, an initiative that provides students with guidance and support via the phone and a 24/7 text service.
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