mental health Sam Gyimah
Image: British High Commission, New Delhi / Flickr

Mental health at forefront of universities minister’s agenda

Universities minister Sam Gyimah stated that his prioritisation of student mental health is “non-negotiable” as Freshers’ Week begins in various universities across the country.

Expanding on the point, he said: “I want to protect this hugely positive experience for all those starting their new, exciting chapter.

“With the new academic year upon us, I’m sure you would agree that good mental health and wellbeing underpins successful participation and attainment.

“Collectively, we must prioritise the wellbeing and mental health of our students – there is no negotiation on this.

“To make this happen, leadership from the top is essential.”

In the 12 months leading up to 2017, the Office of National Statistics revealed 95 recorded university student suicides.

At the University of Warwick, a Freedom of Information request discovered that 12 ambulances had been called to campus for suicide or attempted suicide from 2013 to 2017.

To tackle the issue, the government has announced the creation of a new University Mental Health Charter in Bristol this June. The scheme seeks to not only boost public awareness of mental instability among students, but to also recognise and develop approaches to induce greater student wellbeing.

Backing the project, Mr Gyimah said: “I expect high standards to be set within the Charter that will require each university’s senior leadership team to deliver positive change”.

He added: “I very much look forward to hearing more on the progress you’re making with your pastoral care offer as I continue to meet with institutional leaders in coming months.”

In 2016/17, 2,372 students registered with counselling services at the University of Warwick, a 61% increase in comparison to 2010/11. Anxiety was the most common reason to contact the university’s counselling services, seeing 216 contacts in 2016/17, followed by depressive mood disorders, with 212 contacts.

The University of Warwick provides a Support Services webpage, offering advice and guidance on various organisations students can get in touch with, in the event of any form or extremity of mental malaise.

Alternatively, students can contact the Health Centre, Security Services, Residential Life Team, and Nightline. The University also offers face-to-face counselling, email counselling, group therapy, and specialist workshops.

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