Over 32 JCR Presidents have put their name to a letter to Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson expressing “deep concern” regarding the University’s mental health provisions.
The letter claims that “UK students are in the midst of a mental health crisis”, citing figures which suggest that 78% of students believe they have suffered from mental health problems in the last year.
The signatories argues that “The collegiate system tends toward ad-hoc welfare structures. While at some colleges the welfare team can give much needed emotional support, or referrals to the counselling service or NHS, elsewhere, suitable procedures might be completely lacking. This leaves students as the main point of contact for those struggling with mental health problems: the SU found that 85% of JCR welfare reps are called out to crisis situations. This is very troubling, and completely unsustainable.”
The letter continues, with the Presidents criticising Oxford for “a severe lack of public leadership on this issue from the University governance, the sort of leadership that has been demonstrated elsewhere”, such as at Cambridge.
Whilst the Presidents acknowledge the University’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, they condemn “the lack of student consultation in the creation of this strategy is highly irresponsible at best, and deeply negligent at worst. Common room welfare teams cannot be on the frontlines of the battle, yet remain as peripheries to this conversation.”
The letter concludes with a series of requests, including the demands that “the University must make Student Mental Health an institutional priority” and the “Vice-Chancellor should release a written statement responding to the requests made by this letter”.