A rising concern for university students across the United Kingdom is the lack of mental health policies in effect. Suicide rates and mental health conditions have had a drastic increase within the last few years.
Even with the increase in demand, many top universities in Britain are still without a mental health policy in action. Prestigious universities like Birmingham and the London School of Economics, do not have any policies regarding mental health, and eight other institutions are currently revising their policies after receiving backlash from the government.
According to the Institute for Public Policy Research, in the last decade, there has been a fivefold increase in students who have declared a mental health condition. Without mental health policies to lean on for support, student suicide rates have steadily increased.
The Office of National Statistics revealed that in 2017, 95 student suicides were recorded in England and Wales. During that year, the suicide death rate was up by 4.7 deaths per 100,000 students and was seen higher in men than women.
Due to the alarming statistics, universities across the country have been placed under scrutiny to improve their mental health services and support to students in need.
To help address the pressing matter, the government has plans to open a University Mental Health Charter in Bristol within the next two years. By opening this charter the hope is to increase and promote student mental health.
In addition, Universities UK (UKK) recently announced its partnership with National Health Service (NHS) leaders to find better solutions to increase mental health support and decrease the suicide rate within the constraints of the university. Other universities, like the University of Derby and Bristol University, have already made investments and change to their policies.
The University of Derby requires all students to take a course in mental health and wellbeing. The course shows healthy alternatives to help them cope with the stressors they may encounter in their academic and personal lives.
At Bristol University, where 11 students committed suicide in the past 18 months, a team of professionals will be available 24/7 who will be providing pastoral care to its students.
Leading initiatives such as these will help provide students with the mental health support that they need. Sam Gyimah, the co-Minister for High Education, emphasizes that there is no negotiation when it comes to the wellbeing and mental health of a university’s students.