How is mental health handled in Universities?
Between 2007 and 2015 the number of student suicides in the UK increased by 79 per cent, and its with this data that questions about the mental health support available in universities increases.
Today universities offer different support systems when it comes to mental health, with various way to access it. It’s possible to seek support in various ways on campus, and often from different platforms online too. Also, in some universities, a “mental health day” occurs once a year, and they provide a constant on-campus counsellor.
But the problem with some of these services is the fact that they are efficient as long as they aren’t in use.
One of the problems with the help offered right now by some universities is that real help is not well organised, but its advertised as so; to a point in which it seems that some universities are doing their best to only provide enough support to not to end up in legal troubles. With all the energy invested in such support tools, it’s ridiculous the way it fails facing real dangerous situations.
The majority of the support offered by universities, comes from the antiquated medical ideology. This includes the belief that people living certain deep life experiences are going to seek help automatically themselves when at their lowest moment. But this is not the case, and the majority of times, this creates misconceptions.
People facing certain life crisis are willing to get help, but more likely can’t find a reason or the strength to seek it. It takes an enormous amount of strength for certain people to finally seek help, but it can be in vain easily, especially when the quality of the help is mediocre or coming from the wrong conceptions.
Seeking help in the university environment should be facilitated, but often leads to confusing online pages, making this crucial procedure really frustrating and further from the help needed.
But there is no number of emails, of webpages and or 15-minutes-tutorials that can actually have an incisive effect in every situation, which is why I think blaming universities entirely is not the answer, and why I think this current helping system is not working.
The first step towards a better mental health support in universities should be in a utopic, but concrete and constant sensitising of students and staff on the topic mental health, not with a badly advertised “Mental Health Day”.
The amount of help universities can provide is of course limited in both amount and efficacy, no matter how organised. Especially in extreme cases, the help provided by universities is never gonna be the final answer, and we shouldn’t expect it.
The goal shouldn’t be to save someone, but rather to guarantee the right supportive environment to then try to effectively help. The environment sourrounding a student often tends to marginalise certain attitudes or to generally misunderstand them, aggravating a situation that is unstable itself.
A more vigil and less naive attitude in the entirety of the university environment needs to form, due to these incidents of mental illness progressing.
It’s not the final help that truly counts, but rather the support to finally seek help, and its that we should improve.