#StudentsDeserveBetter – Following reports of a number of student deaths by suicide in recent weeks, the National Union of Students (@NUSuk) is calling for urgent action to tackle the issue.
As part of the #StudentsDeserveBetter campaign NUS is calling for –
- Greater investment in NHS mental health services and services delivered by colleges and universities
- Increased funding for mental health charities working with BAME, disabled and LGBT people
- Support for students self-isolating including care packages with food, household products, wellbeing materials and general necessities, and targeted educational and mental health support
Sara Khan, NUS Vice President for Liberation and Equality, said:
“We are heartbroken over the death by suicide of several students already this academic year. NUS would like to send our thoughts and support to the families of the victims.
“We have warned the government multiple numbers of times about the risks of the pandemic on students mental health. Many have left home for the first time, are living with strangers and have no access to their support networks. There is growing uncertainty and anxiety about the year ahead. Some things have been done but it is not enough. The issue is not being taken seriously enough and it is putting students’ lives at risk.
“We know that expressing hopelessness about the future, displaying overwhelming emotional distress and withdrawal from social connections are warning signs that a student may be at risk for suicide. We also know that the best way to prevent suicide is through early detection, diagnosis, and treatment.
“Were enough resources allocated to education providers to be able to see those signs and provide adequate support? Clearly not. Have there been enough resources centring the needs of BAME, disabled and LGBT students, since we know that outside of a global pandemic they are already the most at risk of poor mental health? Clearly not.
“Students deserve better than this. That is why we call on the government to immediately increase the funding of NHS mental health services and the funding of mental health charities working with BAME, disabled and LGBT people. We also need to see more support for students self-isolating and flexibility shown by universities, including allowing students to travel to see family members provided it is safe to do so. Universities should be providing care packages with food, household products, wellbeing materials and general necessities, and targeted educational and mental health support, with facilitation of social activity.
“The death of one student is one death too many.”
Responding to today’s NHS figures showing one in six children in England have a probable mental health problem
Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, said:
“This dramatic increase in the number of children struggling with mental health problems, worsened by the Covid crisis, is extremely alarming. It should shock the Government into immediate action to tackle a growing epidemic.
“While there have been some welcome improvements in children’s mental health services over recent years, clearly the scale of the problem is getting worse, and what has been promised is just not enough. The NHS will have to upscale radically its plans for children’s mental health just to meet its existing commitments. Every school needs an NHS funded counsellor as a minimum, and we need a children’s mental health service that is properly funded, with no postcode lottery, so that children receive the support and treatment they need as quickly as possible.”