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NUS Scotland calls for government commitment to students in strategy

Thursday 02-03-2017 - 10:51

To coincide with Student Mental Health Day, NUS Scotland is calling on the Scottish Government to ensure specific recognition of the support students need, and the necessary actions to improve student mental health, in the revised Scottish Mental Health Strategy, due to be released this year. 

Figures obtained by NUS Scotland last year found a worrying 47% rise in students seeking mental health support, illustrating the significant challenges that student mental health services are facing. Students face additional challenges in continuing to access support services when moving to a new NHS area for university or college, leading NUS Scotland to call for better transferability of services between NHS boards.

The final Scottish Budget, agreed by Parliament last week’s Scottish Budget, made a specific commitment to support children and adult mental health, which NUS Scotland wants to see matched with specific references to students in the Government’s mental health strategy, with some of the additional funding to be used to improve transitions between and across services and insitutions..

Commenting, NUS Scotland President Vonnie Sandlan said:
“It was really encouraging to see specific references to child and adolescent mental health support in the Scottish Budget, and significant additional funding to improve those.  That now needs to be met with solid commitments in the government’s Mental Health Strategy on improving the support available to students. We’ve seen a significant rise in students applying for support services in recent years, which will come as little surprise to those who’ve experienced the additional pressures students face – including finances, living arrangements, and academic expectations. While there’s fantastic work being done at universities and colleges to promote mental wellbeing, , services continue to be stretched, and students run the risk of falling through the gaps in the system.

“We’ve consistently called for the revised mental health strategy to include recognition of the unique circumstances students face, and the tailored support that requires. At present, mental health services don’t follow the individual and aren’t portable -  someone accessing support in one area would have to join the back of the queue for those same services, if they move to a new NHS board to study or return home for summer. With mental health waiting times up to 18 weeks and students often splitting the year between home and their place of study, we run the very real risk of students being caught between health boards and on a never ending waiting list, or simply giving up hope of ever accessing services. 

“We’ve seen great developments in mental health support in recent years, with the introduction of a dedicated minister for mental health and the budget commitments to supporting children and adolescent mental health. Now, though, we need to see the Scottish Government’s upcoming mental health strategy set out a clear plan on how the government will tackle the glaring issues that remain in student mental health. This absolutely must include improved transferability of services across the country. Student Mental Health day can’t simply be the only time that student mental health receives the attention, and action, it needs.”
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