125,000 students are at unis which cut their mental health budgets
Plans have been unveiled to force unis to provide a minimum level of mental health care
125,000 students are studying at unis which cut their mental health budgets over five years.
Cambridge and QUB are among the quarter of unis who failed to increase funding in their mental health services in the five years to 2018, despite rising numbers of students seeking help.
The figures come as the Lib Dems are considering plans to force unis to provide a guaranteed level of mental health support and publish average waiting times for their counselling services, The Tab can reveal.
Figures obtained by former Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb show mental health funding decreased in the five year period to 2018 at the following unis: London Met, Dundee, Westminster, Cambridge, Queen Margaret Edinburgh, Queen’s University Belfast, SOAS, Brunel, Cranfield, and Chichester. Data from HESA shows over 125,000 students were enrolled at these universities in 2017/18.
At the Royal College of Art and Buckinghamshire New University, budgets stayed static, whilst funding in 2017/18 was lower than a previous peak at: Leicester, Reading, Swansea, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Huddersfield, Kingston, Solent, Uni of Wales, Greenwich, and Wolverhampton.
One in six unis asked didn’t know how much they spend on mental health support for their students. “It is unacceptable that many universities do not even record vital information,” says Lib Dem MP Munira Wilson.
Last month, a Tab investigation revealed over half of unis don’t even know how many of their students are dying by suicide.
In new plans drawn up by the party, the Lib Dems want to force the government to introduce a student mental health charter, forcing unis to provide “guaranteed access to provision of mental health support; guaranteed provision of mental health support of a certain standard; recording and reporting waiting times to allow students and prospective students to have knowledge of when they will be able to access services.”
The plans, which also aim to “ensure all universities have the aim to reach zero suicide,” become official Lib Dem policy if voted by half of members at their conference in York next month.
Munira Wilson MP, the Lib Dem health spokesperson, told The Tab: “Mental illness blights the lives of far too many of our young people. Those struggling with their mental health aren’t receiving the support they need and this has to change. Of course the government must invest more money for mental health services in the NHS, but universities also need to fulfil their duty of care to their students.
“It is unacceptable that many universities do not even record vital information such as waiting times or how much they spend on mental health support. How can they realistically expect to tackle the chronic lack of support when they do not even collect such basic information?
“That is why we want to make it Liberal Democrat policy to work with students, universities and mental health charities to create a student mental health charter, putting into law a guarantee for universities to ensure a good level of mental health provision.
“We are in the middle of a student mental health crisis and we owe it to our young people to do something about it. To protect the futures of our young people we must work to eradicate the failures of mental health provision for those in higher education.”