More than 3,000 students signed a petition in less than 24 hours asking the university to take action and deal with the growing ‘mental health crisis’ on UEA’s campus.
The petition was created after the death of a student on campus yesterday, which marked the fourth student death at UEA in ten months.
In light of the news, student union election campaigns have been suspended.
Adam Harvey, who began the petition, said: “UEA has seen several student deaths this year, all of which have affected UEA as a community, and all of which are unacceptable.”
On Tuesday, March 12 the body of a first year student was found in his room in Britten House.
In a school-wide email to literature, drama, and creative writing (LDC) students, head of school Alison Donnell named the student as Theo Brennan Hulme, a literature and creative writing student.
Vice-chancellor David Richardson said: “At UEA we have recognised the significant increase in demand in wellbeing and mental health services and have been planning for additional investment.
“What we can do, what we must do, what we are focused on doing is responding to give the students and staff in our community the support and assistance they need on a whole-institution basis. As a parent myself, I know how much anxiety and worry this causes for everyone.
“At UEA we take our responsibilities very seriously. We are investing an additional half a million pounds over the next five months because we know demand is growing. We have fast-tracked additional funding into our services both for the remainder of this financial year and the budgets for future years.
“We will be immediately investing an additional £250,000 now for this year and from the start of August we will spend £1.4m in mental health and wellbeing services, a 63 percent increase in budget compared to this year.
“We will be using this money to improve access to services, recruiting specially trained wellbeing staff to offer more support and interventions to students. This includes a further Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and a Senior Wellbeing Advisor with links to local NHS services.
“The number of advisors who are on hand to offer guidance around a range of worries and challenges will also be boosted. This includes a Mental Health Advisor, Disability Advisor and two Student Life Advisors.
“Training for academic and support staff will also receive additional funding, with three extra staff trainers being recruited to offer Mental Health First Aid training and suicide prevention awareness.
“We are improving our services. We are investing more. But it’s not just about money. We will need a whole community response on these issues and I will be leading a VC Taskforce on mental health and well-being at UEA. We do need to look out for each other and support each other through this.”
Some students have suggested the 250,000 investment in services is not enough.
Rachelle Griffith said: “please stop defending yourself and admit that as an institution you have failed another student”.
Sheldon Vestey said: “How can the university afford new halls of residence, projects no doubt in the many millions whilst it fails to support the students it already has?”
Zahra Benallal Santos said: “I got a call [on March 13] from sss to give me an introductory session to asses [sic] my case to start counselling. I requested this mid/end of November. 4 months later. ”
A spokesperson from uea(su) said: “We understand the frustration of many students.
“The petition specifies long waiting times at Student Support Services (SSS) which is understandably a very topical issue for students; however, we need to be very clear that any student who requires support should contact SSS as soon as possible.
“As a Students’ Union, we stand united alongside the growing number of students calling for the university to do better.”
In a separate statement, uea(su) said they will hold an event on March 15 in the square. Uea(su) said: “From 1pm, students will be able to collect an item from the Hive, add their name to it, and bring it to the square to be with other students and show solidarity.”
Alternatively you can contact Samaritans on 116 123 24-hours a day or email firstname.lastname@example.org
View the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/david-richardson-directly-address-the-mental-health-crisis-at-uea?recruiter=658984958&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_term=Search%3ESAP%3EUK%3EBrand%3EPetition%3EExact&fbclid=IwAR2g-2qPWYQZGIam4Xva92Z6WvSWqObj9G_0MsuD7aZuX25n3TuL8P03NhQ