Bristol University spends £32 a year on counselling for each student

A worrying figure

Student well-being and mental health at Bristol University has been under intense scrutiny over the past week.

In the wake of the three suicides of freshers in halls, both the national and local media have been reporting and commenting on the state of student welfare at this university. It has become clear that something has got to change in regards to how the pastoral care and mental wellbeing of students, particularly undergraduates is approached.

The Tab submitted a freedom of information request regarding how much is spent on counselling for students, and the results are in.

Coming out at a respectable 8th place, Bristol spends £32 per student per annum on counselling. This finance allocation is clearly operating on the assumption that most students will not be using or accessing student counselling, because a good counsellor will often cost more than a paltry £32 per session.

A regular counsellor is expensive, and when it is considered how many students are experiencing mental health problems, the amount that the university spends on mental health is worrying.

If one in four students have a mental health condition, and the university is only spending £32 on counselling for each student, then it would not be unreasonable to suggest that there is either a big pressure on services or students who are experiencing difficulties will slip through the cracks.

Given that there have been three suicides this term, all of them first years, I would suggest that it is a mixture of both. These students were, in my opinion, victims of the system, as both the pastoral care and mental health services were unable to prevent their deaths.

Moreover, the lack of an on call psychiatrist specifically for Stoke Bishop and students in other halls might have mitigated this.

As the transition from school to university is difficult for many, leaving first year students in a particularly vulnerable place, it is clear that something has to change. Putting strategies in place that will make the student support services more effective, as well as employing more specialist staff to help tackle this issue could make a world of difference.