06/05/2016 09:09 BST | Updated 04/05/2017 06:12 BST

Drastic Improvements Needed for Student Mental Health Services


Hope At Hand have launched a new petition to improve continuity of mental health care for students.

One in four of us experience mental health issues in the UK each year, so why is it yet to become a priority for the UK government?

Not many people fully know my story, in fact few do, but the above photo was taken days before I sat in my last lecture at university before having to drop out due to mental health issues. I seem perfectly fine don't I? Yet, I was the one in four.

With 2,266,075 students attending university in the 2014/15 academic year (Higher Education Statistics Agency), and according to statistics a quarter of those will experience mental health problems, we at Hope At Hand are urging the government to not only talk about mental health, but for action to be taken.

In recent months the UK government has had mental health on it's agenda and as a result there's a new framework to have an extra 1 billion pounds put into the mental health system by 2021.

That sounds like a lot of money to most of us and the recommendations include providing mental health care to 70,000 more children and young people, increasing access to talking therapies to reach 25%, and a commitment to reducing suicides by 10% (UK Government). These figures over 5 years are simply not enough.

Furthermore, there is no action currently planned to reduce the waiting times for those who move away for university.

Students under the care of mental health teams still face months of waiting lists before even being offered an initial appointment with the mental health team in their new area. By this time, students are often back home for a much needed break to visit friends and family. Due to their time throughout the year being split between two locations, very often students can go their entire student life without much needed mental health care from the NHS.

With the local MP elections coming up in a couple of days, we're urging people to sign this petition to get MPs to take note of this drastic flaw in the mental health system, in the hope of joining together and getting those in power to take action.

The number of students who took their own life in England and Wales rose by a shocking 50% between 2007-2011 (Office for National Statistics). There are no accurate statistics for the following years. This is partially due to the distinct lack of continuity of care for students study away from their home town. Whilst the males figures remain almost double the female, the female suicides doubled themselves over the 4 years.

Whilst many universities are improving their student services to try to maintain the increasing demand for mental health support (10% per year), the NHS is simply not providing adequate care for every student who needs it.

Our petition is urging local MPs to push for further improvements to the mental health system as soon as they are elected, as many students who study away from home are falling through the massive flaws in the system.

We need 10,000 signatures in order for the government to respond.

This is a cause close to our hearts, as we know it is to many of yours. So we urge you to please join our plea, sign our petition and share via social media. More action needs to be taken! We need your voice to make the government take notice.

Sign the petition here