Lib Dem MP demands that Bristol Uni makes ‘zero suicide pledge’



By Zoë Crowther, Students’ Union Correspondent

Norman Lamb, a Liberal Democrat MP, came to Bristol to sit on a panel discussing the student mental health crisis.

The panel event ‘Mental Health and Universities: Fixing the Crisis’ took place on 6 February 2019, and was organised by Bristol Liberal Democrat Students and Support Our Services (SOS), a student-run campaign group lobbying the University to improve its mental health services.

Lamb was joined on the panel by Isaac Haigh, SOS President, Kate Majid, CEO of the Shaw Mind Foundation, and James Cox, Lib Dem candidate for Bristol West.

The panellists discussed a wide range of issues from waiting lists to access support services, to policies to reduce the numbers of student suicides. Lamb said that ‘at too many universities the waiting times are unacceptably long and during that time awful things can happen. There should be access to online support as a first point of call.

‘I would also like to see universities set an audacious ambition, and say "we as an institution aim for zero suicide - we aim to save every life."’

Last summer, previous Universities Minister Sam Gyimah and Student Minds UK announced the development of a University Mental Health Charter, which will reward institutions for good practice relating to improvements in student wellbeing.

The University of Bristol has also recently launched a new Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, which has pledged to increase provision of counselling and improve availability of sessions.

Isaac Haigh, SOS President, told Epigram: 'It was a pleasure to be on the panel with Norman Lamb and hear his ideas. It brings me hope that politicians like him are acknowledging the seriousness of the situation to do with young people's mental health.

‘I am all for getting politicians to talk about young people's mental health which is why I went on to the Sunday Politics show to talk about it more. A zero suicide pledge would be great start for the University to have a clear policy for reducing the number of student deaths.'

You can watch Isaac Haigh discuss mental health on BBC Sunday Politics here.

Featured Image: Bristol Liberal Democrat Students

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Zoë Crowther

Students' Union Correspondent