A Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed that on average students at the University of Bristol wait 52 days to access support, while the national average is 15 days.
Former health minister and mental health campaigner Sir Norman Lamb revealed that in the academic year of 2018/19 University of Bristol students waited three times longer than other students to gain support for mental health problems.
The FOI revealed that the national average waiting time was 15 days, whereas at Bristol Uni this rose to 52.
Speaking about mental health at a panel discussion at the University, Sir Norman called for a mental health charter and a 'zero suicide' pledge to be made by the University of Bristol.
'It is completely unacceptable that some universities are cutting funding', - Sir Norman Lamb
Key Findings by the FOI:
- An increase in referral rates for mental health problems from 2,141 in the academic year 2014-15 to 3,287 in 2017-18
- A decrease in counsellors employed by the University from 8.6 in 2015 to 7 in 2019
- An increase in the University's spending on the provision of student welfare and mental health services
'When the prevalence of mental ill-health among students is increasing, it is completely unacceptable that some universities are cutting funding. We should be seeing sustained increases - after all, mental health has historically been way underfunded.' Said Sir Norman, speaking about his research and the national situation.
Response from the Uni of Bristol and other universities:
- Many of the 110 universities that responded to the FOI said that they did not keep a record of statistics such as waiting times or budgets, meaning that the national picture might be different in actuality
- On Monday the 16th of September the University of Bristol revealed that it has signed up to a new £1.5 million programme created by the national mental health charity MIND with the intent of helping 3rd year students complete their final year and transition to the working world
- The University also stated that reducing waiting times is a priority, and hope that the introduction of the Wellbeing Advisors and a Residential Life model will enable this
'The mental health and wellbeing of our students is a key priority,' The University of Bristol stated. 'Our whole institution approach aims to support our students' wellbeing during their transition into university life and throughout their time with us, as well as helping them build life skills and resilience to cope with pressures they face.'
Student's Union Student Living Officer George Bemrose spoke with the University's Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience after hearing about the FOI's results. You can find their interview below.
Featured image: Epigram/ Isaac Haigh