The Student Support Services (SSS) have announced plans to make what the SU are calling “significant changes” to counselling services.
There are 140 students currently waiting for their first appointment, prompting the SU to describe the service as being under “immediate strain”.
Changes will include the hiring of a temporary counsellor for three months, training SSS staff to administer counselling online, increasing the maximum number of counselling sessions per student from six to eight, and ensuring students can still use the services over the Easter holidays.
Since 2012 campus demand for mental health and welfare services has increased by 52 per cent.
SU Welfare Community and Diversity Officer Jo Swo has compared this to the seven percent increase in university funding for the SSS, describing the funding disparity as having “placed the service under incredible strain.”
She also said, “not only is there massive demand for counselling, but once students got into the programme, they struggled to attend.”
The SSS have noted that between September and November of last year 24 percent of counselling appointments were missed by students.
Swo said she was “particularly focussed on moving counselling services into the 21st Century,” by encouraging the SSS to improve their website, introduce more online resources and establish more convenient ways for students to access services digitally. The SU have been calling on the SSS to expand services as part of their ‘Mental Health Matters’ priority campaign, which aims for the university to provide “a more proactive mental health service.”