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UoB students wait three times longer for mental health services than the national average

Waiting time averages up to 52 days

It had been revealed that waiting times for mental health services at Bristol Uni are three times longer than those at other universities.

Information from a Freedom of Information request (FOI) acquired by Lib Dem MP Sir Norman Lamb found that in the academic year 2018/19, the average waiting time to access counselling at Bristol was 52 days, compared with the national average, which is 15.7 days.

Lamb's report also found out that while Bristol Uni have boosted funding for mental health counselling services, they have actually cut the number of full-time counsellors on their books. At the same time, referral rates are on the rise.

Though 110 universities responded to Lamb's FOI, it was revealed many did not record all relevant key statistics, such as those relating to budgets and waiting times.

Lamb has called for Bristol Uni to adopt a 'zero suicide' pledge. He said: "These figures are unacceptable. Clearly some students are being failed by their universities. The lack of appropriate mental health provision at some universities is intolerable.

"When the prevalence of mental ill-health among students is increasing, it is completely unacceptable that some universities are cutting funding.
We should be seeing sustained increases – after all, mental health support has historically been way underfunded."

A University of Bristol spokesperson responded by assuring that changes made last year to its counselling service had reduced the average waiting time for therapeutic support to less than four weeks.

They also highlighted the mental health services available at the university: "In 2018 we introduced Wellbeing Advisers into our Schools and Faculties and a Residential Life model for students which sees similar individuals embedded in our residential villages providing support on a 24/7 basis.

"For many years we have operated student support services including an on-campus GP practice, counselling and services that specifically support our most vulnerable students.

"Last year we made a change to the way we provide counselling support to reduce waiting times by introducing an online assessment to speed up the process and ensuring we can focus on offering therapeutic sessions.

"The new Residential Life and Student Wellbeing Services have provided individual support to over 5,000 students, normally within a few days of it being requested."