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The University of Birmingham does not have a student mental health policy

More students could fall into a ‘black hole’ in mental health services

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An investigation by HuffingtonPost has revealed that The University of Birmingham does not have a specific policy towards the mental health of its students.

The university has recently faced increasing calls that it is failing to provide sufficient mental health support to its students.

Earlier this month an inquest into the death of a Birmingham student revealed that he had fallen into a 'black hole' in mental health services.

The investigation found that along with The London School of Economics, the university does not have a "unified policy regarding student mental health."

Responding to HuffPost, the university admitted it does not have a student mental health policy but claimed it does have a “collection of advice, guidance and procedures that we apply on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the right package of support is in place, when it is needed."

Furthermore, the university claimed it was "proactive in ensuring students are signposted to and supported in accessing appropriate statutory and voluntary organisations, such as NHS services.”

The university's failure to produce a comprehensive student mental health policy is particularly shocking given that it recently launched a cross-college "Institute for Mental Health" (IMH).

According to the Birmingham's website, the IMH was established to "improve the care and outcomes of those with poor mental health, and to transform the way services and public policy view and treat mental health."

Despite investing into a brand-new commission for national mental health policy, the university has failed to produce a policy for its own students.

Writing in an article for Universities UK, Vice-Chancellor Sir David Eastwood claimed "student mental health is a priority." He added universities "should support students in the same way that we would also seek to support staff experiencing mental health problems."

Earlier this year, the family of Andrew Worden who committed suicide in 2017 blamed the university for failing to inform them of Andrew's struggles. It was also revealed how he "did not engage" well with university's mental health team.

The Institute for Public Policy Research found "levels of mental illness, mental distress and low wellbeing among students in higher education in the UK are increasing". They suggest that institutions should "make the issue a strategic priority and adopt a ‘whole-university’ approach".

In The Tab's 2017 Mental Health Rankings The University of Birmingham placed 15th.

In February, The Tab reported that University of Birmingham employees only six qualified mental health counsellors for a student population of over 30,000, and had even been forced to suspend all counselling sign-ups due to "high demand."

For anyone affected by this story or seeking help, information about the universities counselling and well-being services can be found on their website.

Nightline is also available for confidential support and information over the phone, email, or in person:
Alternatively the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

1) Mental Health at UoB: a guide to the help available

2) ‘I could have taken my own life’: student opens up about mental health at UoB

3) These images show the undeniable impact of mental illness on the brain