A mental health assessment for every new student starting University
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This morning I was incredibly saddened to read that a 3rd student in a fortnight at my university, the University of Bristol, had taken their own life. Having suffered from both anxiety and depression myself, I know how it feels to be this low and as I always said, 'I want to walk out the door and never come back.'. I am fully recovered now, stable on my medication, though that does not mean at times I do not feel sad or worried like the rest of us. I was lucky with quick access to private health care, however not everybody is in the same position. This is why I want to draw great attention to the clear lack of mental health care provision on the NHS in the UK in general, not only the University. It is simply NOT good enough. I attended the student health service this afternoon for a mental health assessment to see how I was getting along. I was asked two questions, 'how is your mood?' and 'do you feel suicidal?' to which I answered, 'Great, and no I am not.' After 3 minutes I was deemed perfectly healthy and sent on my way. It is evident that the doctor, perhaps overrun or with better things to do, did not have adequate time for me. I cannot begin to comprehend how this would feel for someone who is at their lowest. Thus, I put two things forward. Number one, an important piece of advice. You are not alone, you are not bothering anyone, there is ALWAYS someone to talk to no matter how low, anxious or scared you feel. Never shy away from a person you believe may be struggling, they may just be too nervous to say anything and need you to take action for them in their quest for recovery. Number two, a proposal, perhaps on a small scale at this point. I would like your support to take forward the idea to Hugh Brady, the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol, a mandatory mental health assessment for all new 1st years at the beginning of the year, in September, that is assessed biannually to see for changes in a person's behaviour/mood. After a months worth of strikes at the University, we were asked where we wanted to see the unspent money from withheld salaries go and this is what I want. A team set up specifically to deal with mental health at the University, including psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors who hold no other responsibilities but to provide this greatly needed service. This cannot wait any longer, we cannot see anymore lives wasted, it is time for change.
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