Bristol University students 'wait the longest' for mental health support, FoI reveals

Students wait an average of more than 50 days for mental health counselling. Credit: ITV News

Students at the University of Bristol wait three times longer to access mental health services than the national average, according to new statistics.

A Freedom of Information (FoI) Act request by mental health campaigner Sir Norman Lamb, of the Liberal Democrats, found the average waiting time to access counselling at the university in 2018/19 was 52 days.

This figure is significantly higher than the national average, which the FoI suggested was 15.7 days.

In response, a University of Bristol spokesperson said changes made last year to its counselling service had reduced the average waiting time for therapeutic support to fewer than four weeks.

Key findings by the FoI:

  • An increase in funding for mental health counselling services at the University of Bristol

  • A decrease in the number of full time employed counsellors at the university

  • A sharp increase in referral rates

At a panel discussion at the University of Bristol, former Health Minister Sir Norman Lamb called for a university mental health charter and for the University of Bristol to make a 'zero suicide' pledge.

Many of the 110 universities which responded to the FoI said they did not record all relevant key statistics, such as their budgets or waiting times.

Universities also said they could not deal with the issue of mental health alone and were already working on a voluntary mental health charter.

Liberal Democrat candidate for Bristol West, James Cox, added:

In response, a University of Bristol spokesperson said students' mental health and well-being is a "key priority".