UEA has been awarded £12,000 of funding from British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) to increase its development of programmes which use sport and physical activity to aid students with mental health issues.

The funding will be used to expand UEA+sport’s exercise referral scheme, which grants students who receive support for their mental health access to the Sportspark on campus.

It has already run successfully for six months, helping over 80 students.

UEA will also introduce a range of new initiatives, including ‘chill out or smash it out’ yoga and boxercise drop-in sessions during exam periods, and a buddy scheme, which will give students who have difficulty with social and cognitive demands more support.

These initiatives will be delivered collaboratively, by UEA Student Support Services, the Students’ Union and UEA+sport.

Alongside these new initiatives, UEA Student Support Services already offer wellbeing advice sessions, workshops on wellbeing and resilience, access to experienced mental health professionals, and therapy.

Claire Pratt, Wellbeing Manager for UEA Student Support Services, explained that university life can be stressful for students, meaning it is vital to focus on well-being.

“[Students] are often living away from home, have less frequent access to their established support networks and can struggle with the social and academic demands.”

Pratt also mentioned that the extra funding will allow them to help more students and make “a real difference.”

Ben Price, Assistant Director of Sport for UEA was excited about the funding, explaining: “We bid for this funding against other universities across the country and we are really happy that BUCS and Sport England has confidence in our proposals.”

He described UEA+sport’s other aim: “We also hope to reduce some of the stigma which still surrounds mental health and raise awareness of the benefits of physical activity for mental wellbeing.”