Politician says universities should be bound by law to meet the mental health needs of their students.
By Molly Clayton
A student takes their own life every four days according to the Office for National statistics.
19-year-old Liverpool University student Ceara Thacker took her own life in May 2018. Her parents said they could have helped if someone had just made them aware.
There’s now a plea for parents to be made aware if the student is a threat to themselves.
A public health course director at Leeds Beckett University said: “I’m sure there’s a good reason as to why the parents aren’t involved already.”
However, waiting lists for counselling services are so long that students are struggling to get an appointment in the first place.
A recent study shows that the average wait for a counselling appointment at university is 43 days, half the length of a university term
Ceara Thacker did not receive a response from her university’s mental health team for two months, despite being assessed by two mental health Nurses and being treated for an overdose in February 2018.
Student George Andrews from Leeds who has been dealing with depression since starting university tried counselling. He said, “I have now left university due to my mental health condition. I did manage to get counselling appointments last year but they didn’t help me that much.
“It took me around two months to get an appointment and I was only offered around four sessions.
“I wouldn’t of minded if they had contacted my parents but I think they should get the students permission first. Family can be a big help.”
The 2019 Student Academic Experience Survey reported that there are continuing growing concerns of students well-being – with just 18% saying they were happy, 17% saying their life was “worthwhile” and 16% having low levels of anxiety.
Liberal Democrat MP and Mental health Campaigner Sir Norman Lamb obtained information from 110 universities on the demands for counselling and support for students. The results show that many universities are not meeting their demands. Universities such as Bristol are spending over £1million a year on well-being services, whilst others are spending less than half of that.
Sir Norman is now calling for a legally binding charter which has minimum standards that universities are required to meet.
Some great points made by @normanlamb recently about the need for Universities to give students more widespread access to #MentalHealth care – it is quite shocking that the average longest waiting time is more than 6 weeks https://t.co/VH4jzmJc5L
— Ben Powick (@BenPowick) September 17, 2019
The amount of students who are studying at university who are in need of support and suffering from mental health issues and illnesses is continuing to grow each year. Between 2010 and 2019 there has been a 23% increase.
Doctor and Course Director at Leeds Beckett University who doesn’t wish to be named said; “I don’t think any university hasn’t had someone take their life because of mental health issues.
“The demand for counselling is so high and I think its always increasing. Life is getting harder these days. In the time I’ve worked here, more students are presenting themselves with more complex situations and problems.
She said, “Students can’t wait long for appointments. Unfortunately, some of my students have waited over five months and for some, that’s just too long.”
And when you finally do manage to go they tell you they don’t have the resources and I need to go to the doctors instead (with a years waiting list for counselling) – 3 times my uni has done this now
— des (@desosaur3) September 16, 2019
MBE and mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin said, “I have had counselling and other forms of therapy throughout my life. Finding someone who I can speak to that is able to listen without judgement whilst offering guidance and support, has been invaluable for me.”
Jonny has now helped to create a mental health workshop for schools and universities. He said, “I hope to try and stop other young people from going through what I did by ensuring every student has someone to talk to and mental health education.”