Amid mounting concern over student suicides, some universities haveÂ found a surprising solution to their long mental health waiting lists â€“ they are reducing or outsourcing their counselling services in a move apparently designed to shift the burden on to the NHS.
Unable to keep up with rising demand, they are rebranding their mental health student support as â€œwellbeingâ€ services. Some universities plan to maintain aÂ reduced number of counsellors, but others are sending students toÂ local NHS services. Professional counsellors are being told to reapply for jobs as wellbeing practitioners, orÂ face redundancy.
There is concern over the loss ofÂ trained, experienced counsellors on campus, a move described as â€œperverse and dangerousâ€ by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. â€œThe fact that some universities are considering downgrading or reducing counselling services within their institutions is aÂ huge cause for concern, particularly seeing as mental health needs among students are often complex,â€ says Andrew Reeves, BACP chair.
Ninety-five university studentsÂ killed themselves in the 2016-17 academic year, andÂ Sam Gyimah, theÂ universities minister, last month issued an ultimatum to vice-chancellors to tackle the mental health of students. â€œThere are some vice-chancellors who think that university is about training the mind and that they donâ€™t have to deal with these extra things. They canâ€™t do that â€¦ It canâ€™t be something that belongs to the wellbeing department of the university. This requires sustained and serious leadership from the top,â€ he said. One of his proposals is for an opt-in system authorising universities to contact the parents or guardians of students with a mental health crisis. More
Nearest tube: Elephant & Castle underground station (Northern and Bakerloo lines).
Nearest Railway Station: Elephant & Castle
Buses from Elephant and Castle: ask bus driver for Burgess Park. Bus numbers: 12, 171, 148, 176, 68, 484, 42, 40, 45