Fresher creates petition campaigning for all new Bristol students to have a mental health assessment

It’s nearly reached 2,000 signatures


A first-year French student has created a petition for all new Bristol students to have a mental health assessment when starting in September.

Eloise McIlwraith, the creator of the petition, proposes student's mental health should be assessed biannually so that any changes in a student's mood can be noted.

So far the petition has received over 1,900 signatures, but is hoping to get 2,500 in total. This in the wake of students speaking out about their experiences with the university's support services after the three recent student deaths which occurred within a fortnight.

We spoke to Eloise about her ideas for improving services for Bristol students, and ways others can help.

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Eloise's description of the petition on change.org

In what ways does your petition want to change the support available for Bristol University students?

My petition aims to change the support available for Bristol University students by making a greater amount of support available than is already provided. In order to get help with one’s mental health, it is necessary for students themselves to personally reach out to the services provided, which does not take into account those who are too scared to put themselves through the process.

By having a mandatory mental health assessment, this means the mental health service is going to students and building a bridge of confidence which allows those students affected by issues later on in the year to realise that the whole process initially was not that frightening.

How did you come up with the ideas for these changes?

I came up with the ideas for these changes on my walk back to my accommodation from my own mental health review at the student doctors. As can be read in the petition, I was asked how my mood was and if I felt suicidal, to which I replied that my mood is fine and I do not feel suicidal at which point my assessment was deemed over.

I was incredibly disappointed with the lack of attention that the doctor paid to me, which if I was in a worse position with my mental health, I would find extremely disheartening. The ideas I came up with stemmed from how the health service could adapt their approach to mental health to be more in depth and on a greater scale.

Some of the comments the petition has received

Did you expect the petition to get the large amount of support it has already received?

I was shocked to receive an incredible amount of support on the petition from a variety of different people as although mental health is a big issue in the world today, a lot of people are still too scared to admit they may have a mental health problem as for many, it can be seen as embarrassing or weak, yet, this is not the case.

I was lucky that my secondary school were generous enough to step in and share the link to my petition on their website and social media pages which inevitably helped the support to grow, but further, I have some great friends who worked tirelessly to spread the petition around their own circles.

How can other students get involved in improving the current support services that Bristol University offers?

There are a variety of different ways that other students can get involved in helping to improve the services that Bristol University offers. Initially, I would suggest to read and sign my petition, as the more support this has when taken to Hugh Brady, the more weight it will carry to obtain changes. Furthermore, on the 25th May, there is a March for Mental Health Services going on where students can make noise and get involved in protest for change.

On a personal level, it is important that students do not sit back on their laurels. If you yourself attend a mental health assessment, review or attend counselling and you are not impressed with the experience, do not keep this to yourself. It is incredibly important that the university knows where their faults lie in order that they can change them.

Click here to sign Eloise's petition.