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Support Our Services publish demands for better mental health care at Bristol University

‘We deserve better, we deserve proper care.’

Support Our Services have issued a set of demands to the University of Bristol, requesting better mental healthcare provisions for students.

The campaign group was the driving force behind the March for Mental Health that took place in May earlier this year.

This was held to express the need to update wellbeing services provided by the university, as the current strategies in place had been proved deeply ineffective and worrisome. Between September 2016 and May 2018, eleven students in Bristol are believed to have taken their own lives.

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The list of demands made by SOS

A spokesperson for the group said: "We simply cannot wait any longer", emphasising the need to "keep up the pressure and fight for the mental health care provision we deserve."

What changes are SOS demanding?

SOS suggest that "formal mental health training" should be provided for personal tutors who "should be mandated to have at least 2 meetings with students a term."

This, coupled with monitoring students’ attendance in tutorials and seminars, would hopefully ensure a greater awareness on the part of the university.

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SOS call for students' attendance in tutorials and seminars to be monitored

Whilst scheduling meetings between students and personal tutors would be positive in theory, there is no guarantee that students would attend, and it is highly plausible that those most likely to skip these sessions could be those most at risk from issues relating to mental health. We questioned the SOS spokesperson on this, and they responded duly:

"The purpose of these meetings would be to prevent these students from falling between the cracks of the system, and being mandatory, students would not have the option of not attending."

"Failure to attend would result in chasing the student up, at which point further action would be taken such as contacting their emergency contact."

SOS also calls for "a compulsory session in Welcome Week to ensure students know where to go if in need and how to help peers", as well as a full time psychiatrist to be employed by the university, and for all staff to be trained in suicide prevention.

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The group's march in May demonstrated how the university needs to improve current mental health services

These demands would require considerable funding from the university; however, SOS do not believe this to be a mere squandering of resources.

One spokesperson said: "Ultimately, when a student is paying over 9 thousand pounds per year and international students are paying even more, a basic level of care is to be expected."

"Furthermore, as there is a significant increase in intake of students per year, these services should be improved to reflect this, which is not the case at the moment."

This is why SOS have decided to make a stand and why they emphatically state that "if the university does not respond to these demands we will make our voices heard, as we did in May."