With the pressures of financial strain, academic performance and uncertainty in the jobs market being added to the complexities of family and social interaction, life as a student in Cambridge can be a stressful and demanding time. University mental health services have experienced a huge surge in demand over recent years, with the rising number of students accessing counselling far exceeding the growth in student numbers during the same period.
In response to the ongoing nationwide crisis of mental health provision, the College is dedicated to providing structures and programmes which support the welfare of resident students. Alongside the University's Counselling Service and the support offered by the College Nurse, Chaplain and Directors of Studies, we currently employ a part-time Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, funded by a bequest to the College.
Established in 2017, the Student Welfare and Mental Health Fund has allowed the College to begin to create a programme of care and activities directed at the welfare and mental health of resident students. The fund is intended to provide paid-for specialist advice and therapy not readily available through normal NHS and University Counselling routes. It also provides funding for students and staff to increase awareness of mental health issues, and supports related activities and workshops.
In a practical way, the fund may be drawn upon to support any individual who needs help with diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health issues, or to support activities which increase awareness of such issues or add to the general wellbeing of the student community.
Its uses include, but are not limited to:
- the appointment or retention of accredited mental health professionals to support students in crisis
- the purchase of paid-for welfare and mental health services for individuals (e.g. counselling, therapy)
- the provision of events and activities which promote awareness of mental health and welfare issues
- the disbursement of grants in support of Fellow- or student-led projects which have benefits for students’ welfare and mental health. (e.g. workshops, seminars, presentations from professionals in mental health, wellbeing, mindfulness)
- training for Fellows, staff and students in recognizing mental health and welfare issues, and how to secure the appropriate services or escalation
While King's has recently worked to establish clearer pathways and improved in-house provision and access for mental health services, it is clear that we must continue to support students during this highly stressful time of their lives.
- Anjalene Whittier (KC 2015)
Through the expansion of the Fund, it is hoped that we can create an environment which is aware and supportive of mental health issues, and provide care for those who need it. In addition to our core activities, we hope to be able to endow the position of a full-time professional therapist who can be on call for students needing longer-term treatment and advice, and to monitor, maintain and improve the welfare and mental health of all members of the King’s community.