University of Suffolk setting standards for higher education mental health support

The university is 6th in the table for percentage increase in spending in the last five years, a who

The university is 6th in the table for percentage increase in spending in the last five years, a whopping 181% surge. Picture: NICOLE DRURY/IBC - Credit: Archant

The University of Suffolk has almost tripled its spending on mental health in the last five years - outspending huge universities like Loughborough and Portsmouth.

The Ipswich-based university spent £144,105 on mental health services in the academic year 2016-2017.

The university has increased spending in this window by 181%, with is greater than 78 of other institutions that provided data.

Only Swansea, Falmouth, Salford, Middlesex and St Mary’s University in Twickenham have increased their spending by a greater proportion.

The University of Suffolk had 586 students in the 2016-17 academic year, making the spend per student just under £250.

Chantalle Hawley, Head of Student Services at the University of Suffolk, said: “Higher education students sharing that they have a mental health condition is increasing in the sector and this is true for Suffolk.

“We see this as a positive thing and work hard to create a culture where the topic of mental health is not stigmatised.”

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In 2012 they hired their first practitioner with clinical experience and have increased this resource to two full-time staff with clinical backgrounds.

The whole team is made up of counsellors, disability and wellbeing advisers and disability and mental health advisers.

On top of that

The data was collected by the BBC in a bid to compare the mental health provisions of higher education institutions.

While many institutions collected their data differently, it showed that the University of Suffolk had expanded their services to cater to their students needs in the last five years.

The university have expanded their team from 35 hours of staffing in full and part-time roles to over 130 hours.

On top of this, over 100 members of staff have completed a mental health first aid course, with ongoing training in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST).

Ms Hawley added: “Since we rolled out the training, staff have expressed confidence in recognising early warning signs and referring students to specialist support services before they reach a crisis point.”

The university also work alongside the NHS, mental health services, Suffolk Wellbeing and Suffolk MIND.