University of East Anglia to expand mental health support – BBC News Express News

Prof David Richardson

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UEA vice-chancellor Prof David Richardson said the university was taking the issue “seriously”.

A university accused of letting down students over mental health support says it is speeding up plans to expand its services.

The University of East Anglia said it would increase the budget from £620,000 in 2017/18 to £1.4m next year.

Four students have died in the past 10 months, and a petition calling for better mental health support has been signed 4,000 times in 24 hours.

Prof David Richardson said: “We are doing a lot but we can always do more.”

Task force set up

He said the university had restructured its student support services in the past four years and would now implement the next phase.

That includes recruiting 10 new staff to provide “more timely support where there have been issues”, said vice-chancellor Prof Richardson.

He will also lead a mental health and wellbeing “task force” to review how the university’s services are run, with input from staff, students and other organisations in the city.

The UEA announced on Wednesday it would release an extra £250,000 for support services, a day after a first-year student was found dead in his room.

It has now said it will add a further £250,000 to the budget from August.

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Beverley Bishop welcomed the funding for student support services.

Beverley Bishop, whose 20-year-old son Jess Fairweather took his own life in October after two weeks at the university, welcomed the extra funding.

“There can never be too much support – there’s always more that can be done,” she said.

“Mental health must be taken seriously and I believe the UEA is taking it seriously.”

A student petition called for more counsellors and better awareness of mental health on campus.

Many students had reported waiting months to access the university’s mental health services.

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