Universities UK: Higher Education Institutions Should Have An Up-To-Date Mental Health Policy
This petition calls on universities to outline, through a formal mental health policy, how they intend to a) prevent suicides and b) support the mental health of their students. It urges Universities UK to provide encourage and guidance to its 134 member institutions.
In 2011, 112 full-time students in England and Wales died by suicide. This was up from 75 deaths from suicide in 2007, an increase of nearly 50%.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists, in a 2011 report into student mental health, urged that there was a "pressing need" for more to be done to support the mental health of students. A key recommendation was that institutions put in place a mental health policy. According to the report;
"“This should ensure that they meet statutory obligations under disability legislation. It should also cover areas such as health promotion, the provision of advice and counselling services, student support and mentoring, and special arrangements for examinations (Universities UK/GuildHE Working Group for the Promotion of Mental Well-Being in Higher Education, 2006)”
Guidelines on producing a mental health policy are available from the Working Group for Promotion of Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education.
According to a survey carried out in 2008 (cited in the RPsych report), 54% of the 94 responding institutions claimed to have a mental health policy in place, and 29% claimed to have one in development. Even if the figure is now 100%, this does not necessarily mean that the policies are up to date, or being monitored. To know whether policies are being reviewed and updated regularly, they should be made publicly available online.
Who is this relevant for?
This is an issue not just for students, but for parents, staff, and all those with an interest in the welfare of young people. Only with a mental health policy in place can institutions be held fully accountable for the support they provide to students.
What do we need to do?
We can accomplish this by, 1) making known those institutions that are already meeting this guideline, and publicising their policy; 2) urging those institutions that are not currently meeting this guideline to do so; 3) urging Universities UK to provide its members with guidance on doing so.
What you can do
If you support this campaign, please add your name to this petition and contact the HR department at your local university to request a copy of their university mental health policy.
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