It takes up to 15 weeks to get a one-on-one counselling appointment at Sussex uni

‘It’s a matter of life and death and the university does not seem to care’

Students at the University of Sussex are currently having to wait up to 11-15 weeks for a face-to-face counselling session, The Sussex Tab can reveal.

The Sussex Tab found that students looking to attain a first time consultation for mental health services could not do so for seven consecutive days. Furthermore, information obtained by The Sussex Tab using Freedom of Information requests shows that it can take more than a fortnight to get a face to face counselling session at the University of Sussex. But the real waiting time is much longer.

I tried the services out for myself to put these waiting times to the test. Eventually, after four weeks, I was able to get an initial consultation only to be told that it is going to take up to 15 weeks to access my counselling appointments. Once students successfully book an appointment at the Student Life Centre, there is a total of six one hour sessions made available to them. This means that by having my recommended one session per week, the total length of the course is six weeks. The waiting time I faced from trying to book an initial assessment to the time of my first face to face session in early February is 15 weeks, which means my waiting time is triple the amount of the time I’ll be able to access the service for.

Alex, a masters student at the university, spoke exclusively to The Sussex Tab about the dangerously long waiting time for a counselling session: “The fact that Sussex has ‘kindness’ as one of its core values seems absolutely laughable. University management, who continue to take home vast, extortionate salaries, and splash out tuition fees on new buildings we’ll never get to see, are disgraceful. Their inability to properly find the mental health services on campus is dangerous and it’s just a matter of time until something truly devastating happens.

“When students ask for help from the student life centre, they aren’t anticipating needing help in half a years time. They need help now, urgently. University management needs to properly fund the student support services before a tragedy happens under their watch. ”

Another final year student, George told The Sussex Tab that, for many students, attaining a counselling session is actually a “matter of life or death.” He said: “Students are quite frankly being left out in the cold in their greatest time of need – it’s a matter of life and death and the university does not seem to care”

A spokesperson from The University of Sussex told The Sussex Tab: “We appreciate that this is a difficult time for many students and we are doing everything we can to make sure that support is available to those who need it. While we give priority to those in acute need, we encourage any student who needs help to contact the Student Life Centre, so that they can be advised on the most appropriate form of support for them.

“This might include counselling and other opportunities for promoting wellbeing and social interaction. We are aware that this pandemic has come on top of a growing crisis in people’s mental health which is manifesting both inside and outside of universities. We are maximising our resources to ensure that there is a range of support for students including the use of online tools and additional locums to provide more therapeutic appointments and proactive support groups for our students.”

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• It takes more than a fortnight to get a face to face counselling session at Sussex Uni