I can’t believe the first term is almost over, I hope all ye first years have settled in and have had a good few weeks!
As most of you know, all of us officers were elected with the intention to have a continued and dedicated focus on mental health. We came into office at quite the prime time to be a part of the discussion.
It’s amazing to see the strides that have been made, around mental health, since I was a first year. We’ve gone from it still being this unknown thing that has a lot of stigma, to it being spoken about as commonly as the weather to it getting a lot of attention in the press and the University and other institutions like our local health providers having to address the crisis that students are facing.
Where we’re at now feels like we’ve made huge steps in the right direction; the dialogue has been opened, people are thinking about what can be done and, in some places, a lot of funding has been allocated (more practitioners in Open Door and staff in YUSU’s Advice & Support Centre from January (yay!). But we’ve still got a bit further to go with mental health support & provision outside of our own institution.
I’ve spent a good part of my time in office doing a lot of proactive and productive work around mental health with a lot of groups and services. I’ve been working with the following groups who are distinct, despite being fairly interlinked...
The Student Health Needs Assessment steering group
A group set-up by the council to look at the health needs for students in York. The discussion has largely and primarily focused on mental health – given the recent closure of Bootham and the lack of sufficient replacement. While there has also been a lot of talk around drugs, alcohol and sexual health. They’re in the middle of the consultation phase and have conducted a few focus groups on campus as well as sending out a survey to stakeholders and to students.
The Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)
The NHS group that is working on developing a new mental health hospital for the Vale of York, to address the recent closure of Bootham. They’re still in public consultation – trying to get a feel for the bed numbers & configuration, the site location and the design. They very kindly came to campus to consult students but do also have a survey out to capture the views of those who couldn’t make it.
Unity Health, our on campus (or nearby sites), have changed their system following feedback they gathered last year over the Stay & Wait. Millie, myself and the DSN have heard a lot of concern and outcry over this new system. We’ve fed what we can back and the service is keen to be as good and accessible as it can be, but you need to let them know yourselves if they’re going to make further changes!
Now I know, having learnt it myself, that the experience of a student is working hard(ish), playing a lot harder and getting asked to fill in way too many surveys.
But the following are important. They’re an opportunity for you all to make change and get your voices heard on some really important issues. We have a real opportunity to ensure our services are in a better shape for students and members of the local community to please take part! This opportunity that doesn’t present itself very often. You’ve elected me to ensure students’ voices are heard but we need to work together to ensure the best possible outcomes - and gathering evidence is key to achieve that.
If you think there should be a student unit in the new mental health hospital, SAY SO!
If you think there’s not enough support for students with mental health – or if you think there is – SAY SO!
If you don’t know where you’re meant to go for sexual health information, testing or treatment – PLEASE LET THEM KNOW.
I brought all of this together in a blog because I’ve been promoting all of these for so long and they are all so so important but they are each different and each deserving of your time, whether you have a lot to say or nothing at all – so do please please fill them in (but if you do any of them, please let it be the health needs assessment).
Survey assessing the health need for students in York: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SHNA16
Survey for the development of the new mental health hospital: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MentalHealthHospitalConsultation
Unity Health Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/UnityYork
And just in case I’m not blogging again before the end of term I’d just like to say congrats on getting through the first term, I hope you enjoy your break and that your yuletide’s very gay.
Peace & Love,
P.S. If you REALLY like surveys we’re also doing one on our democracy processes at YUSU. Check out Millie’s blog about it here: http://www.yusu.org/blogs/view/2004/how-can-yusu-better-represent-you
P.P.S. THere’s also one where you could potentially win £500! Help YUSU work for you! ow.ly/vstU306bpAI