Norfolk

University of East Anglia: 'Mental health improvements needed'

UEA square Image copyright N Chadwick/Geograph
Image caption The UEA's Students' Union said it was "really concerned" about the deaths on the campus

Students at a campus where four people died suddenly in less than a year have called on university bosses to lobby for better mental health services.

The University of East Anglia Students' Union (UEASU) has highlighted concerns about NHS services, course workloads and waiting times in a new manifesto.

Four students have died on the campus in Norwich since May.

Vice-chancellor Prof David Richardson said the university was focused on supporting staff and students.

Image caption Georgina Burchell, from the Students' Union, said the manifesto pulled together things people had been saying on social media

The UEASU started drafting its first mental health manifesto the day after first-year student Theo Brennan Hulme was found dead in his room earlier this month.

Georgina Burchell, the student union's welfare, community and diversity officer, said: "The manifesto is really important and it pulls together a lot of things people are saying on social media.

"It makes something productive out of all the emotions people are feeling.

"It provides a clear outline to the university about how we think mental health should be managed."

The newly-released document, which said it represented students' voices, told how the union was "deeply concerned about the state of NHS provision in Norfolk" and the inadequate rating of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT).

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Students want university leaders to campaign for better mental health services

It called for university leaders to help shape NHS strategy for young people's mental health services, lobby for improvements and to set up regular meetings with the mental health trust and other educational institutions.

Fears were also voiced that students often had to wait weeks for initial help through the UEA's Student Support Services.

It also urged the university to ensure the number of assessments students were set was "mentally taxing... not mentally damaging".

Prof Richardson said: "We have recognised the significant increase in demand in wellbeing and mental health services, what we can do, what we must do."

The university has already announced an extra £250,000 to pay for improved access to services and wellbeing staff and will spend £1.4m on mental health services from August - a 63% rise on this year's budget.

The NSFT declined to comment on concerns raised in the manifesto.

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