Mental health and heavy drinking: Alastair Campbell returns to Cambridge with a warning

Campbell speaks of the “worst possible way to start a new life.”

Alastair Campbell Alcohol alcoholism caius Drinking labour mental health

On Wednesday Alastair Campbell returned to Caius for the first time in 39 years, telling students that the University should do more to support students with mental health issues.

He spoke openly to current undergraduates about his own struggle with mental health issues and alcoholism, calling for an open discussion amongst the student body about issues they might be facing.

Campbell currently campaigns on mental health issues, calling for a parity between mental and physical healthcare.

Encouraging solidarity amongst the student body, he told Caius students to “think of yourselves as needing each other, wanting to look out for each other.”

According to the former Labour party advisor, universities nation wide should make a greater effort to support students suffering from poor mental health.

02/03/16 Alastair Campbell at Caius 02/03/16 Former spin doctor and mental health campaigner Alastair Campbell returns to his former college, Gonville and Caius College, to speak to students about mental health. Picture: Keith Heppell

“Mental illness is devastating lives. Where is the outrage?”

He also spoke about attitudes towards alcohol amongst university students, specifically condemning the association made between Fresher’s Week and excessive drinking.

He claimed: “Being considered abnormal if you don’t go out an get smashed all the time – I think that’s the worst possible way to start a new life.”

Arguing that binge drinking during Fresher’s Week is a “real problem,” Campbell condemned alcohol companies for exploiting the issue by lowering prices and providing excessive “happy-hours.”

He finished: “I honestly think there should be a lot more challenging of the idea that that is somehow normal acceptable behaviour.”

Keir Murison, the head of Student Minds Cambridge told The Tab that SMC “echoes Mr Campbell’s sentiment about the need for better mental health provisions from the university and the role that friends should play to look out for each other.Freshers week is a very built up event, which can lead to abuse of alcohol.”

Keir noted that the link between drinking needs to be discussed and de-stigmatised because of its huge impacts on student life.