Overcoming the issues of long waiting lists for mental health support in education

Recent research conducted by the Royal College of Psychiatrists has found that two-fifths of
patients waiting for mental health treatment contact emergency or crisis services, with one-
in-nine (11%) ending up in A&E; respondents living with severe mental illness – including
eating disorders, bipolar disorder and PTSD – were left waiting up to two years for
treatment. Others were left waiting up to four years for treatment for depression, anxiety
and suicidal thoughts. 1
The Guardian newspaper reports “Students with mental health problems are being forced
to wait up to 12 weeks for help from their university, prompting fears that some may take
their own lives during the delay”. 2 Sadly, we have seen reports in recent years where this
has become a reality, indeed this has happened to 2 students that I have known in the years
that I have been working as a lecturer at a HEI in SE England. To me this is 2 students too
many…
It is well documented that services provided at HEIs to support and help students with
mental health issue are over stretched. Moreover, most of the support available for
students suffering mental health conditions are based on treating the symptoms i.e., it is
only offered if students declare that they are suffering from mental health issues.
Mental health problems can affect many areas of students’ lives, reducing their quality of
life, academic achievement, physical health, satisfaction with the college experience, and
negatively impacting relationships with friends and family members. These issues can also
have long-term consequences for students, affecting their future employment, earning
potential, and overall health. 3
Therefore, rather than offering post-stress treatment where students must wait for several
weeks to be seen before they get better, it would seem more effective and lifesaving to
have a preventative and individualised tool that students can use before the symptoms
become unmanageable or life threatening.
To overcome the issues of long waiting lists for Mental Health support there is one
successful solution to this problem; that is to integrate the SEJ into the educational settings.
The research conducted at Kingston University, in measuring the impact of integrating the
SEJ as a simple and effective tool to empower the students at Foundation level, has shown
that the SEJ made a 100% improvement(with those who took part in the survey) in their
transition to HEI. Students can apply the SEJ process in the moment, it is adaptable in all
situations, unique to the individual, without the need for external intervention. This
research has proved that the SEJ helps to remove the stigma, and a reliance on
overburdened services with delayed waiting times offering a timely and immediate solution
when and where they need to address their mental health.
References:

Overcoming the issues of long waiting lists for mental health support in education 14
Nov 2021

  1. https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/news-and-features/latest-news/detail/2020/10/06/two-
    fifths-of-patients-waiting-for-mental-health-treatment-forced-to-resort-to-emergency-
    or-crisis-services
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/sep/16/uk-students-waiting-up-to-three-
    months-for-mental-health-care
  3. Eisenberg, D., Gollust, S. E., Golberstein, E., & Hefner, J. L. (2007). Prevalence and
    correlates of depression, anxiety, and suicidality among university students. American
    Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77(4), 534–542.

Dr M Howard-Kishi

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