Student Mental Health Charter - Liberal Democrats will make it binding on Universities, guaranting access to high quality mental health services for students

December 4, 2019 7:29 AM

Dr Nick CottDr Nick Cott has welcomed the Liberal Democrats commitment to transform mental health services in the UK by creating a binding Student Mental Health Charter. This will require all universities to guarantee access to high quality mental health services for their students.

This is part of the Liberal Democrats' plan to prioritise everyone's mental health, including the commitment to invest £11 billion in transforming mental health services, more than either Labour or the Tories.

A recent freedom of information revealed that many universities do not record fundamental data, such as their budgets or waiting times.

The Mental Health Charter would put in law a guarantee for universities to ensure a good level of mental health provision, including the commitment for universities to publish data on their university waiting times, as well as a maximum wait for access to counselling and support.

Nick, who is the Liberal Democrats candidate for Newcastle North, said: "Mental illness can blight the lives and futures of our young people. Too many are struggling with their mental health and aren't receiving the support they need.

"It is incumbent on our universities to fulfil their duty of care to their students. For many young people going to university, this will be the first time they are living away from home.

"This, coupled with the fact that many universities do not record vital information such as their spend on mental health support or waiting times, means that we are in the middle of a student mental health crisis.

"The Liberal Democrats believe universities should be bound by law to meet the mental health needs of their students. That is why would work with students, universities and mental health charities to ensure that we fix the fundamental failures of current mental health provision for people in higher education."

The details : The Liberal Democrats will develop the Charter in consultation with students, mental health charities and universities. It would include:

Guaranteeing access to provision
Guaranteeing provision of a certain standard
Recording and reporting waiting times to allow students and prospective students to have knowledge of when they will be able to access services
The aim for all Universities to reach zero suicide
A freedom of information request by Sir Norman Lamb revealed that many universities do not know or do not record key mental health statistics such as the breakdown for mental health spend in their budget and average waiting times.

The survey revealed:
Over a quarter of universities have failed to increase or are cutting funding when compared to a peak in the last five years.
75% of universities saw an increase in engagement with university counselling services between 2014-15 and 2017-18.
The average longest wait for counselling was 43.5 days - over half the length of a standard university term.
And the survey also showed that many universities lack the ability to track the state of their own mental health services:
Over three quarters of universities were unable to provide data on longest wait times for accessing counselling.
A third of universities told us they do not record average waiting times for seeing a counsellor.
75% of universities that responded to the survey were unable to provide any detail on what routes students had been referred by to mental health services.