Unis move counselling services online as they tell students to leave campus

But some are being left behind, saying ‘since everything has happened I’ve literally had no information at all’

Universities are moving counselling services online or over the phone as they tell students to leave campus.

Bristol, UEA, and Newcastle are among the unis changing their mental health services in the middle of the coronavirus crisis.

Bristol even offered pro-active help to people in self-isolation, telling students “this may be a concerning time for you so please do contact the Wellbeing Service for additional support if needed.”

However, some students are being left behind in the midst of the rapid changes, with one student on a waiting list saying “since everything has happened I’ve literally had no information at all.”

One Bristol student – who requested anonymity to talk about ongoing counselling – said they filled in a request for counselling at the beginning of March and had an offer for an over-the-phone session within 10 days, just as the university was announcing a shutdown of teaching.

“I had a really good phone call with a wellbeing advisor,” the student told The Tab.

“They apologised a few times for having to do it over the phone and it was harder than I was expecting, due to being uncomfortable about phone calls in general, but it was still really helpful.

“I also got the offer of another phone call on my own timeframe or during the Easter holidays. And I am able to text or email whenever I need – it’s still accessible.”

At Newcastle, students were told as part of an informational email “all Student Health and Wellbeing support services remain available and are now being delivered remotely using telephone or video call.”

Despite some uni services adapting quickly, longstanding issues with mental health provision have not gone away. Before coronavirus, some unis had average waiting times of nearly two months for a counselling appointment.

And since then, the transition unis are making hasn’t been so smooth for some students “I’ve been on the waiting list for CBT since January and was told that I’d get it by Easter holidays,” says one student.

Despite GPs sending the university reminders, “since everything has happened I’ve literally had no information at all they haven’t reached out to update me,” the student told The Tab. “They’ve kind of just left me to get on with life.”

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