There is a connection between the high student suicide/mental health problems and the effectiveness of the services at Bristol. When it comes to student suicide, the university avoids conversation and we receive emails informing us on the deaths, listing ways of getting help in statements. However, once a student actually follows up these suggested help options, a tiresome process awaits. For counselling there are waiting lists to determine how at risk you are. Five suicides is an impossible and horrifying number to hide from the media and the students, even if the health services were easily accessible many are embarrassed to seek help or express how they’re truly feeling. Discussion is needed more than ever.
I myself tried to access the services in December and couldn’t face the torturous initial meetings, disorganised timings and weeks of waiting that I needed to go through before getting an appointment. You have to fight and arrange if you want to talk to someone but most people don’t want to believe they should get help and that other people need it more, including myself. I also tried using Big White Wall as the university recommended but it was only a temporary solution for me. Unlike some I had the support of my family when I was having a difficult time in my first term.
Others are not as fortunate. To feel like taking your own life is the only option is unfathomably upsetting. To think of how helpless, sad and lost these students must have felt. A friend of mine waited 6 weeks for an appointment and then with the Easter Holidays it was a waiting period of 9 weeks before they saw someone in person and still the sessions are limited.
I love Bristol the city but the uni health services clearly need more funding. Considering we’re paying triple fees since five years ago, surely more money needs to go into an issue that is costing students lives. Something shiny, new and grander to make the university appear exceptional is nothing in comparison to the safety and wellbeing of the students.
I want any student who feels like they need support in any way to be able to access it! I want to promote being able to talk about mental health. I was stubborn and resistant but I can look back now and say that talking to someone was completely the right decision for me and I needed it. It took time but I am a million times happier and stronger because of it.
It’s exam season, a very stressful time and there is a lot of pressure. If you are having a difficult time at university please reach out to your counselling services. Or find someone who you feel comfortable talking to and tell them how you’re feeling, it’s amazing the release it can give you. I would also suggest checking out the anonymous site Big White Wall:
I really feel very passionate about this topic and I hope that a difference will be made.
For more information on Mental Health Awareness Week: