Maintaining good mental health is more important than ever, students are being told as they prepare for the start of term and in-person teaching.

The message is set out in an open letter to learners from university principals and student association presidents.

It comes after a period in which campus life was extensively disrupted by restrictions introduced to limit the spread of Covid-19.

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The letter states: “We are pleased to be welcoming you to university for the 2021/22 academic year, whether you are starting university for the first time or returning to a new level of study.

“We know many of you are excited to return to in-person teaching and wider face-to-face experiences at university. Yet, we also understand some people might have concerns about the re-adjustment this involves.

“In this context we believe it has never been more important to look after your mental health and wellbeing and we want to give greater visibility to the wide range of activities and services available to support you.”

The letter says universities and student associations are taking a “whole institution” approach that highlights the importance of experiences such as connecting with other people, physical activity, learning new skills and “giving back” to the wider community.

“We are also here to offer a range of focused support for your mental health if things are not going well,” it adds. “It is okay not to be okay. We encourage you to pay attention to your mental health and to ask for help if you need it. Our support services celebrate the tremendous diversity of our student population and so the support we can offer is inclusive of all nationalities, race and religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identification.

“As the year begins, we will share opportunities to get engaged in university life, activities to support your wellbeing and details of our support services for mental health with you. You can also find details of the specific services offered at your institution if you search for student mental health in your university’s website or online learning portal.”

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The letter concludes: “The return to an in-person experience is possible thanks to our dedicated staff, who have worked through unprecedented circumstances over the last 18 months of the pandemic. We ask you remain mindful of their wellbeing and continue to be considerate of one another throughout the year. We wish you all the very best for a mentally healthy and rewarding year. Please let us know if we can help in any way.”

Representative body Universities Scotland has had a group leading on student mental health since 2018. It secured backing from The Robertson Trust to fund The Thriving Scottish Learners study, which is being undertaken by the Mental Health Foundation on behalf of the US.