Press Release / 17 September 2018

intu launches mental health drop-ins for students

intu is offering mental health drop-in sessions for students during the first weeks of the new academic year.

Mental health foundation Blurt has joined forces with intu to run sessions across nine intu student shopping nights which annually see 90,000 students descend on some of the country’s most popular shopping destinations for an evening of deals, discounts and entertainment.

This year’s events at intu shopping centres across the UK will also give students the opportunity to talk openly about their mental health and receive information on where to seek help to cope with stressful situations following a rise in rates of mental ill health in young people.

94% of universities have noted a ‘sharp increase’ in the number of people looking for support services over the past five years according to advocacy and research body Universities UK. Estimates by the independent Mental Health Taskforce to the NHS have found that the economic cost of mental health problems in the UK is hitting roughly £105 billion each year, eclipsing the entire National Health budget.

This is part of how we work as a people business, guided by culture and values.

Alexander Nicoll
Corporate responsibility director at intu

Alexander Nicoll, corporate responsibility director at intu, said: “This is a simple way of approaching what is a difficult subject for many of us. We want to do whatever we can to help which in this instance includes providing the right space and opportunity for our customers to meet with specialist mental health organisations like Blurt so they can begin a conversation and receive support and advice for the academic year ahead.

“This is just part of how we work as a people business, guided by culture and values. Our centres sit at the heart of their local communities and, with more than half the UK population visiting one of our centres each year, we have a responsibility to support the health and wellbeing needs of our customers, to raise awareness of the issues facing them and provide spaces that are truly accessible and welcoming for all.”

Jayne Hardy, Blurt's founder and chief executive, said: “Being a young person today is a lot harder than it was say 30 years ago. Young people can face challenges including exam stress, family breakdowns, bereavement, bullying and more serious issues such as domestic violence and abuse, not to mention the added effects of living in an “always on” world thanks to social media. We admire intu’s socially responsible approach and look forward to seeing what impact this partnership brings to young people at a time when support for mental health is greatly needed.

We admire intu’s socially responsible approach and look forward to seeing what impact this partnership brings to young people at a time when support for mental health is greatly needed.

Jayne Hardy
Blurt's founder and chief executive

The events take place at intu shopping centres in Manchester, Nottingham, Newcastle and Gateshead, Norwich, Derby, Stoke-on-Trent, Essex and the West Midlands, including intu Trafford Centre, intu Lakeside and intu Metrocentre.

The partnership between intu and Blurt will eventually be extended into training designed to support the mental health and wellbeing of intu’s staff and customers.

Next month, intu shopping centres will also hold quiet hours for autistic shoppers and their families who struggle with lights, music and noise. Every retailer, restaurant and leisure operator at intu’s 14 centres nationwide is being asked to dim their lights, music and other background for an hour in October. intu already runs quiet hours in individual centres as part of its support for autistic people and is working with the National Autistic Society to take part in a national week-long “autism hour” campaign from Saturday 6 October.

Alexander Nicoll

Job title Corporate responsibility director

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Mark Thomson

Job title PR manager

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