Mental health provision is one of the biggest concerns that students' have, both at UEA and across other universities. Recent national studies have found that one in four University students have a mental health condition, and that the number of students who have dropped out of university because of mental ill-health has tripled in the past few years.
Studying at university is a time in your life where mental health conditions can emerge or become exacerbated, with the stress of living away from a family home, financial pressures and concerns about academic success and the future all playing their part. It’s therefore important that UEA has the necessary mental health provisions in place to support students.
Despite this, the mental health and counselling support that UEA provide comes under constant criticism from the very students that it's designed to help.
In our Student Union Survey 2017, when asked about non-academic support at university, nearly 15% of respondents reported being 'dissatisfied.' In the National Student Survey, there were also comments that indicated students' dissatisfaction with communication and waiting times at SSS.
So, I’ve decided to publish the average wait time stats on the University’s behalf. Because it’s Christmas…
Wellbeing: 3 weeks for disability wellbeing appointments, 4 weeks for mental health wellbeing appointments.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): On average, referrals for CBT2 during:
-September, waited 4 weeks
-October, waited 2-4 weeks
-November, waited 1-3 weeks.
Referrals for CBT3 have a wait of 4-5 weeks.
Average 4-5 weeks wait for counselling.
As a students' union, its our job to represent student views to the University. So, what are we doing about mental health?
One of the SU’s priority campaigns this year, which I'll be taking the lead on, focuses solely on mental health.
We want to work with UEA Student Support Services to develop a range of initiatives to combat loneliness and stigma, and improve opportunities to build social capital and friendships across the institution. We will also be calling for a demonstrable cross-institutional approach on mental health to include all the UEA services and staff who contribute to prevention and referral.
Our key ask is that UEA should increase services in line with rising student numbers, to maintain and beat the recommended ratio for student therapeutic counsellors within SSS, with a demonstrable reduction in waiting times for counselling and improvement in quality of service.
I think it’s safe to say that whilst most students will know UEA received TEF Gold this year, barely any have heard about the university’s mental health strategy. This needs to change, mental health needs to be a priority.