Skip to main content

OfS - Higher Education Social Prescribing Project


Funded by the Office for Students, the Higher Education Social Prescribing Project aims to support Higher Education students with their mental health and well being through social prescribing activities.

The project is delivered in partnership with 10 colleges and other leading organisations including:

  • The City of Liverpool College
  • Riverside College
  • Nelson and Colne College Group,
  • Burnley College
  • Hugh Baird College
  • Preston College
  • St Helens College
  • Wirral Met College
  • Blackburn College
  • Myerscough College
  • NHS Mersey Care
  • Elemental
  • Association of Colleges

The project is focused on improving access for Higher Education in Further Education students to a broader range of services and interventions that address the wider determinants of mental health. The expansion of the range and provision of services for the prevention of mental ill-health was a critical part of the project and designed to support more students as demand rises. Embedding a digital solution through the ‘Elemental’ platform was also intended to accelerate change through the simplification of access to these services.

What is ‘Social Prescribing’?

Social prescribing is an holistic approach used to link individuals to activities or services that support their health and wellbeing needs.


To refer students to social prescribing activities, the colleges used a platform called Elemental. Elemental provides links to internal support services within colleges as well as support services within the local community. The platform also allows colleges to monitor student progress throughout their social prescription. Some colleges piloted the referral of students to social prescriptions used their existing systems used to support students.

NHS Mersey Care

NHS Mersey Care provided in depth knowledge on student wellbeing and mental health as well as social prescribing. They provided the college partners with a half day masterclass to discuss how social prescribing can benefit them and their students as well as giving guidance how to implement social prescriptions within their college.

Project objectives:

  • Develop an understanding of Higher Educations Students needs and how to further develop internal services to support them.
  • Use the social prescribing platform (Elemental) and current internal college systems to refer students to social prescription services within the local community.
  • Develop an understanding of social prescribing and connect to local support services including the NHS
  • Share best practice through the partnership and through the wider Higher Education in Further Education community.
  • Sustain the network through relevant meetings to continue to develop practice in Higher Education Social Prescribing

Project case studies and reports