On the 6th of December, students at University College London will stage a protest demanding improved mental health services
Students at UCL have announced today that they are planning to stage a protest, during the university’s popular graduate open day, to demand improvements in the mental health services provided by the university.
UCL Student Psychological Services (SPS) currently has just one counsellor for every 270 students in need of support, and the minimum waiting time is usually no less than six weeks. A recent survey found that roughly a third of UCL students experience “clinically significant levels of mental distress.”
In light of this, the UCL Fund Our Mental Health Services (FOMHS) campaign is demanding £340 000 of extra funding per year for UCL SPS to allow for the hiring of six additional counsellors. They are also asking that the cap on sessions, which currently limits students to only six visits with a counsellor, be removed.
Last year, over 2000 students signed a petition demanding increased funding for UCL SPS. The petition was subsequently presented to UCL’s senior management. It received no response. This led the UCL (FOMHS) campaign to declare:
“As Michael Arthur refuses to take seriously the student mental health crisis occurring at UCL, we have no recourse other than to take direct action to ensure that our voices, the voices of the students at the university, are heard.”
Postgraduate Students’ Officer, Mark Crawford, a main organiser of the campaign, told Pi Media he had never seen a campaign take off so fast. “Students are absolutely furious about the state of mental health provision here at UCL, but management aren’t listening to us. With a loud and highly visible demonstration on Graduate Open Day, we’ll sell the true narrative of a university that pays lip service to student wellbeing while starving our services of resources and paying its senior managers eye-watering salaries; and if enough people join us in the fight, I’ve no doubt we’ll win. I’d encourage everyone who wants this campaign to succeed to join us on December 6th.”
In the past decade, there has been a fivefold increase in the number of students nationwide who disclose that they are suffering from a mental illness. The vast debts now incurred from opting to attend university are thought to be contributing to this surge, whilst the universities, who are admitting more and more students each year, are adapting neither their facilities nor their resources to adequately provide for student populations that are growing exponentially.
The protest will begin at 2.30pm from the South Quad, on the 6th of December.
A list of societies currently endorsing the UCL (FOMHS) campaign includes:
- Neuroscience Society
- Biopharma Society
- Spanish and Latin American Society
- Singapore Society
- Pi Media Society
- Women’s Network
- LGBT+ Network
- Postgraduate Association (PGA)
- Labour Society
- Liberal Democrat Society
- UCL Medsin
- UCL Cut the Rent
- UCL Fossil Free
- UCL Workers’ Liberty
- UCL Marxist Society
- Squash Society
- Water Polo Society
Featured image: UCL Fund Our Mental Health Services campaign