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Welsh Assembly pledges to make Student Mental Health a priority

The pledge comes just in time for World Mental Health Day tomorrow​

59 out of 60 Assembly Members, led by Cardiff Central AM Jenny Rathborne, have today launched a pledge saying that student wellbeing is an issue high on their agenda.

It was supported by mental health charties Time to Change Wales and Mind Cymru.

Cardiff Uni grad George Watkins, who was Cardiff University Students' Union's Mental Health Officer from 2017-2018, was one of those involved in campaigning for the pledge. He told the Cardiff Tab:

"Student mental health has been something I’ve been campaigning on since I was 16 and throughout my time at Cardiff Uni. It’s an issue that’s really personal to me and to so many people I know, and to have been given the opportunity to introduce the Welsh Assembly’s Student Mental Health Pledge is an immense privilege.”

The amount of students struggling with mental health problems at University is on the rise. There has been a 500% increase in the last deacde of first-year students disclosing a mental health condition.

At Cardiff University five times more students are being referred to the counselling and wellbeing service now than six years ago, and waiting times are the highest they have been in five years. Only £22 per student is spent on the service.

The new pledge has four main commitments:

• Promote the positive wellbeing of every student in Wales

• Work with a range of ambassadors to promote positive public health messages around mental health

• Actively tackle discrimination on the grounds of mental health to ensure that everyone is treated with dignity and respect

• To stay aware of current trends and statistics to monitor the state of student mental health across Wales and the wider United Kingdom.

Jenny Rathborne, whose constituency Cardiff University is in, said: “I am proud to present the Student Mental Health Pledge. It is vital that student wellbeing is a top priority for the National Assembly for Wales. To have so many Assembly Member sign is a demonstration that this is truly a cross-party issue."

Simon Jones, Head of Policy and Influencing at Mind Cymru, said: “Going to university can be a hugely exciting time for many, but it can also be daunting. Student life can have its own set of pressures, such as leaving existing social networks and trying to establish new ones, stretched finances, exam stress and moving away from home, often for the first time. It’s really important that everyone experiencing a mental health problem – including students – gets the support they need, when they need it.”