UCL grants an extra £140k to fund mental health services after student protests
The Union thanks the Sabbatical Officers and the FOMHS campaign
Following protests by student activists and pressure on management, the UCL Students' Union has announced it will be granting an extra £140,000 to the Mental Health Services.
The funding was discussed in a meeting of the Sabbatical Officers with the Provost last Monday. However, it was confirmed today by Professor Anthony Smith, UCL Vice Provost (responsible for Education & Student Affairs).
The aim is to use the funds to hire more professionals and reduce waiting times.
In the 2016-17 year, UCL's overall budget for mental health services was £1,370,177, up 50 per cent from 2012-13.
The Union has presented this achievement as "a result of work from Officers past and present and the grassroots-led UCL: Fund Our Mental Health Services campaign".
The past few years at UCL have witnessed students protests over the poor quality of the UCL Mental Health Services including marches, stunts and open day disruptions.
In The Tab's Mental Health Rankings 2017, only one university of 47 included scored worse than UCL for satisfaction with mental health services.
The UCL Fund Our Mental Health Services campaign told The London Tab: "This was the first substantial victory for the campaign and we're all very happy that the funding has been confirmed!
"We would like to emphasise that this victory was not possible without direct disruptive action – UCL ignored an open letter signed by hundreds of academics calling for more funding and only agreed to meet with us and confirm extra funding after we occupied the Provost's office."
An investigation by the Union in 2016 showed that there was a need of an increase of the funding for Student Psychological Services by £340,000. This would allow for 6.5 new staff members, in order to be able to address the needs of all students that require this services.
Last March, representatives from the Students’ Union and the UCL: Fund Our Mental Health Services campaign met with the Registrar and the Director of Student Support and Wellbeing.
They obtained an agreement by the Union to table a request for two additional counsellors as well as a mental health specialist. The cost of this was estimated to £140,000.
Last Friday we tried to catch the Provost & senior management after a meeting to deliver our Open Letter – they refused to talk to us! After a year of lobbying, management has completely ignored the campaign itself and has only spoken to union sabbatical officers – and when they pressed for mental health funding, managers laughed in their faces!In response, we decided to enter the Provost's office and demand they meet us to negotiate. Instead of talking to us, the Provost and his cronies escaped into their meeting room, slamming the doors in our faces! (we can only assume they made it to the helipad and are half-way to Monaco by now)This is a student campaign and students are being ignored. If management refuse to even talk, then we have no choice but to continue to escalate our actions.Come to our next meeting this WEDNESDAY (7th) to see what you can do to get involved! (message the page for info): https://www.facebook.com/events/144778889659921/
Posted by UCL: Fund Our Mental Health Services on Monday, February 5, 2018
Former UCL student, Zarah Bennet , commented: "It's so vital mental health is funded – it leads to better outcomes for students which in turn, if you want to look at it in a pragmatic way, leads to better outcomes for universities and more government funding".
Among the actions taken by the Fund Our Mental Health Services last year, one of the most famous one was their flash occupation.