Bristol students take mental health battle to the streets

A tide of 500 students from the University of Bristol took the streets last Friday 25 May, marching around their campus in Clifton to demand better university mental health services. The demonstration was triggered by the deaths of three students in the last month, with a total of 10 deaths since October 2016, some of them confirmed as suicide.

Student Tom Phillips, one of the leaders of the march, said the waiting time for counselling services should be reduced to two weeks, from the current six weeks wait for low risk cases. He added that students should have as many sessions as they needed rather than having to reapply for help after just four sessions.

Physics and philosophy student Cristina Oehling, said: “We don’t have direct contact with tutors”, sometimes seeing them just “once or twice a year”. She considered that investing £1million on wellbeing “ends up being nothing when it’s divided by the number of students”.

The Vice Chancellor Professor Hugh Brady, who wasn’t at the march, told The Guardian recently “We are trying to do everything we can to help staff, to help students”.

Fact File

  • In May 2018, three students from the University of Bristol are believed to have committed suicide. The University has urged students to use their wellbeing network for support
  • Student suicide rates in the United Kingdom have increased by 56% in the last 10 years. Source: report by the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, Hong Kong University.
  • From 2006 to 2016, the number of first-year students with mental health problems increased fivefold: from around 3,000 in 2006, to more than 15,000 ten years later. Source: Institute of Public Policy Research
  • University of Bristol was ranked 18th overall in The Tab’s Mental Health ranking of 47 UK universities and the support they give students.
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