Tuesday 05-06-2018 - 11:37
I was elected on a platform of improving student mental health, an issue that is both personally and professionally of huge importance to me.
Personally, I’ve been supported to continue my studies when facing depression, anxiety or panic attacks, and was supported working through dealing with the consequences of losing someone close to me to suicide. Without this support I would not be in the position that I’m in today.
Professionally I’ve seen when mental health support works, and when it fails students. Every student officer that I speak to says that mental health is a problem on their campus, and that not enough is being done to improve the situation. This year I’ve put mental health at the centre of my work at every opportunity, calling on the Scottish Government to include student mental health in their Letter of Guidance to colleges and universities – something that happened this year for the first time ever. I’ve also worked to ensure that the realities of student mental health are understood across the sector and in the classroom through the work of our Think Positive project, which I’m delighted under my tenure of President will continue.
As part of this work I realised that there wasn’t a clear idea of what colleges and universities could do to support students, or a shared understanding of what our vision for student mental health would be. The Charter for Student Rights on Mental Health was created from a clear desire from students across Scotland to see the support they receive improved and enhanced. It’s based on personal stories of students’ difficulties accessing services, and on feedback at NUS Scotland events throughout the year. It represents what students believe are the rights they should have to support them during their time on their courses. I hope the charter can be used as conversation starter with colleges and universities across Scotland about the support that they provide, and that along with their student representatives they can develop a Student Mental Health Agreement to make students’ lives better.
If this Charter can help even one person to get the help that they need, it will have been worth it.
Read the full Charter for Student Rights on Mental Health here, and check out this poster summarising the ten rights.