Universities outsource mental health services despite soaring demand

There is concern over the loss of trained, experienced counsellors on campus, a move described as “perverse and dangerous” by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. “The fact that some universities are considering downgrading or reducing counselling services within their institutions is a huge cause for concern, particularly seeing as mental health needs among students are often complex,” says Andrew Reeves, BACP chair.

Ninety-five university students killed themselves in the 2016-17 academic year, and Sam Gyimah, the universities minister, last month issued an ultimatum to vice-chancellors to tackle the mental health of students. “There are some vice-chancellors who think that university is about training the mind and that they don’t have to deal with these extra things. They can’t do that … It can’t be something that belongs to the wellbeing department of the university. This requires sustained and serious leadership from the top,” he said. One of his proposals is for an opt-in system authorising universities to contact the parents or guardians of students with a mental health crisis. More