Before the Easter break, I wrote a blog about counselling waiting times at SSS.
Mental health is one of our priority campaigns this year at uea(su) and it's an issue that students care deeply about. We've been lobbying the University to expand their provision for students with mental health issues and improve the accessibility of support, particularly regarding groups who may experience additional barriers.
In February the average waiting time for CBT counselling was 61 days, that's almost 9 weeks, which is a completely unacceptable position to put a struggling student in. Wellbeing appointments also missed their target waiting time (10 days), with students waiting on average 20 days to see someone.
I'm pleased to say that SSS have been working hard to reduce these times and, as of the 16th April, waiting times for wellbeing appointments (target 10 days) were down to 12 days and CBT counselling waiting times were reduced to 16 days, beating their target of a 20 day wait. The waiting list for counselling has also now been reduced to 0.
This is a big improvement to the February waiting times, however it remains to be seen if things will continue to improve. These statistics include the Easter period where there is traditionally a lull in students seeking support as they return home for the break. We're hoping that, now the backlog has been addressed, students can expect support more efficiently – particularly as the exam period approaches.
At Union Council last Thursday the Vice Chancellor was present and took several questions about accessibility and mental health on campus, agreeing that there is 'a way to go' with student support and pledging to make representations to the government about funding for disabled students.
Several motions that aim to help disabled students were also passed unanimously. You can read the motions in full here. This included a motion that aims to improve the accessibility of campus for disabled students, a motion to support students with invisible disabilities and a change to bylaws which splits the disabled students officer into two roles – one for students with physical disabilities and one for invisible disabilities. The motion 'sport for all,' which resolves to improve the inclusivity of sport for disabled students, amongst other underrepresented groups such as the LGBT+ community and Postgrads, was also passed.
The support these motions received demonstrates both the extent of the issues that students with disabilities and/or mental ill-health face, but also the will that students have to change things. We'll be working hard to implement the policy changes that Union Council have mandated and we'll also be keeping an eye on the counselling waiting times.
Our advice service has a handy list of places where you can get support if you have concerns related to disability, mental health or other pastoral issues which you can find here.
You can also see an advice worker by booking an appointment or attending one of our drop-ins.