Action on student mental health crisis: a Lib Dem priority

June 20, 2016 6:07 PM

A motion to try and tackle mental health problems in schools, colleges and Universities will be debated at Gloucestershire County Council next week.

Last year, a survey carried out by the Association of Colleges (AoC) found that 66% of respondents said that the number of students with mental health difficulties had 'significantly increased' in the past three years. Moreover, 75% felt that their college had 'significant numbers' of students who had undisclosed mental health difficulties.

The survey was in response to concerns about the increasing number of students with mental health difficulties in further education establishments.

Increases in the number of ambulance call outs at Universities for incidents of self-harm and suicide attempts have also been recently reported by the national media.

The Liberal Democrats now want the council to conduct a thorough enquiry through the creation of a 'cross-party' student mental health task group inviting a number of agencies to determine the scope of the problem amongst students in the county's 26 school sixth forms, 4 FE colleges and 2 Universities.

County Councillor Joe HarrisLiberal Democrat Spokesperson for Children & Young People, Cllr. Joe Harris (LD: Cirencester Park) who will be leading the debate next Wednesday said:

"It's good to see that mental health has shot up the agenda in recent years, everyone at some point in their life will have some sort of mental health issue.

"I've had local colleges approach me directly with huge concern at the current situation and it is for this reason that we must do something to raise awareness and tackle the rising problem.

"Presently, we don't know the true extent of the crisis in Gloucestershire, that's why I want to see the creation of a task group to get a detailed picture of what's going on and a comprehensive report with recommendations to be brought back to a future council meeting."

"Schools, colleges and universities are experiencing a real challenge with the amount of students presenting with mental health problems. There is no formal funding available to provide support, this needs to change and I hope the motion I'm putting forward will start to address this issue in Gloucestershire."

Former Principal of Cirencester College, Cllr. Nigel Robbins (LD: Cirencester Beeches) who will be supporting the motion also said:

"The national statistics speak for themselves, what we are seeing is an alarming increase in the number of mental health problems amongst the student population. The reason it's a mental health crisis is because it deeply impacts on social cohesion, skills, economic development and opportunities for young people.

"As a former Principal of a college I would like to know how big the problem is, here, in Gloucestershire and also what approaches are being taken across the area to support and monitor those students who are suffering from mental health issues."

The Liberal Democrat motion will be debated in the Council Chamber at Shire Hall on Wednesday 29th June 2016.