‘Unprecedented Demand’ Left University Counselling Service ‘Booked Up’ From 7th November

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Freedom of Information [FoI] requests from the Leeds Student Medical Practice, reveal that University Counselling informed the practice that the service was booked up until the end of the term (8th December).

Students were not told to stop accessing the service but advised of the waiting times. Previous FoI requests reveal were the average waiting times for students during the period 2009-15 was 1 and a half weeks, well short of the month-long delay last semester. Moreover, the long waiting list does not include students who may have been dissuaded from applying for counselling, due to their GPs warning of the existing wait times.  

This information, discovered by Leeds Labour Students, has been commented on by their Co- Chair, Elisha Andrews, who stated:

“This once again demonstrates the deep failings of the University to provide adequate services to students. With the new financial year approaching in April, we are campaigning for the University to significantly invest in its students, and not just its’ buildings”

Freedom of Information requests, revealed in the last issue of the Gryphon, also show that the number of full-time counsellors employed by the University has declined from 18 in 08/09, to 15 in 15/16. The University’s latest accounts also show that it produced a surplus of £9.9 million in the last financial year.

Chloe Sparks, Welfare officer commented:

““I strongly support the need for increased funding in the University’s mental health services and have been actively campaigning on this… there’s much more to be done so I encourage any students who are passionate about this to come and work with me.”

A spokesperson for the university said:

“Last term saw an unexpectedly steep rise in demand for University counselling and mental health services, a pattern reflected across the UK. This meant that students weren’t able to access appointments as quickly as usual, although priority appointments were available on a daily basis when there was a very immediate cause for concern.”

“All students who registered for appointments last term were updated regularly about waiting times, and every student who registered has now been offered an appointment.”

“We have employed additional staff and thus have been able to increase the number of initial consultation appointments we offer each week by 25 per cent.”

Daniel Katz