‘Tell uni­ver­si­ties of men­tal health is­sues’

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Camilla Turner ED­U­CA­TION ED­I­TOR

STU­DENTS should de­clare men­tal health prob­lems on their ap­pli­ca­tions, uni­ver­sity lead­ers said yes­ter­day.

Uni­ver­si­ties would be bet­ter able to sup­port stu­dents if they had a full un­der­stand­ing of their needs, ac­cord­ing to Pro­fes­sor Steve West, vice-chan­cel­lor of the Uni­ver­sity of the West of Eng­land.

Speak­ing at the West­min­ster Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Fo­rum yes­ter­day, he said that uni­ver­si­ties were head­ing to­wards a men­tal health cri­sis and sim­ply hir­ing more coun­cil­lors will not solve the prob­lem.

Prof West, who chairs the Uni­ver­si­ties UK men­tal health work­ing group, urged stu­dents to in­form their prospec­tive uni­ver­sity of any men­tal health prob­lems they suf­fered from, adding: “It won’t af­fect their ap­pli­ca­tion. We want to be able to sup­port them through their stud­ies.

“But if we don’t know, then it’s dif­fi­cult for us to work out how best to do so. We would pre­fer stu­dents to in­di­cate they need that sup­port; then we can put some­thing in place.”

Prof West, said that the num­ber of stu­dents and staff who re­quire sup­port is in­creas­ing year on year, and it is hard to ac­cess the right help.

“This is not just about the uni­ver­sity,” he said. “We have recog­nised the an­swer isn’t just putting more and more coun­sel­lors or re­sources in. We have to find a dif­fer­ent way of man­ag­ing this.”

A num­ber of uni­ver­si­ties are strength­en­ing their men­tal health pro­vi­sions, amid con­cern from par­ents about how their chil­dren will cope with set­tling in, and the pres­sures of stu­dent life.

Bris­tol Uni­ver­sity an­nounced ear­lier this year that it is spend­ing £1mil­lion on “well-be­ing ad­vis­ers” amid a raft of mea­sures to counter grow­ing con­cerns about men­tal health, fol­low­ing a re­cent spate of sus­pected stu­dent sui­cides.

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