Lancs students coin #mentalhealthmatterslancaster to rally for better support
‘Mental health support should not be a privilege, it’s a basic right’
Lancaster university students have created a petition campaigning for the university to change how it handles welfare issues. This follows after a first year student attempted to take his life after being moved into an empty halls building.
The students behind the petition told The Tab Lancaster: “It’s so important for students to add their email address to this document in support. We need Lancaster University to acknowledge that there is a demand for well-being services and to subsequently offer sufficient support to students. Mental health support should not be a privilege, it’s a basic right.”
Elysia, a second year biological sciences student, shared her opinion on the importance of this petition and said: “I feel like petitions are sometimes the only way we can be heard by the uni, there isn’t much other way to get through to them about the issues we face.
“The university shouldn’t be seeing us as customers or criminals. We came here on the thought that they’d support us throughout our education but instead they’ve always been a threat to it. The only way to get change is to spread the word and demand the university does something. They should be asking us, their students, what we want. Not isolating us.”
A University spokesperson has said they are still not able to comment on individual cases.
Another student added that the university needs to be providing students with the help they need without making them feel shamed or punished for reaching out to mental health services. They added: “The university need to refrain from creating an isolated environment for mentally ill or struggling students.”
A first year at Lancaster uni said that it was “baffling” that the uni “allowed a student who was struggling with their mental health to be locked away”. They added: “I had faith in the uni in their understanding of mental illness, but this was an act of ignorance and fear of those with a mental illness. They need more training and care.”
The petition already has 235 emails signed. It has gathered a lot of momentum and many students have been sharing the petition and encouraging others to sign it.
Students have also made the hashtag #mentalhealthmatterslancaster to show solidarity and to raise awareness.
The petition can be found here where people can add their email address at the bottom to show their support. Students have also added anonymous accounts of issues they have faced with Lancaster university’s wellbeing services.
A spokesperson for the university said:
“The University still cannot comment on individual cases due to our promise of confidentiality. This has been a challenging year and our sympathies and heartfelt concern goes out to any student in distress.
“Student welfare is always our ultimate priority. Due to the unprecedented circumstances presented by Covid-19, we have had to work differently but our dedicated support for students has continued. Additional services for our students were put in place to increase accessibility, responsiveness and choice for students requiring mental health support.
“Students experiencing most difficulty are contacted promptly to ensure safety, with regular contact from the Counselling and Mental Health Service when required. In some cases, this may be several contacts per day.
“Although term is over, our support services are still available. More than 300 additional hours of cover have been arranged by the Wellbeing team over the Christmas break, our college drop-in centre will be open. Students have been given information about how to get in touch over Christmas and we urge any student experiencing difficulty to do so.”