500 signatures reached
To: Australian Universities
No Mind Left Behind
Campus counselling services are overwhelmingly broken. Underfunded and understaffed, they routinely turn students away after a few limited sessions which they wait weeks or months to get (when they're able to book at all).
65% of university students reported high or very high psychological distress during their studies, and 35% considered suicide. This isn't just unfair, it's dangerous. And universities have a duty of care to their students.
That's why we call on Australian universities to fix campus counselling services by implementing the six demands of the No Mind Left Behind campaign.
Why is this important?
Campus counselling services usually cap the number of sessions offered to individual students each year. As mental health support off-campus isn’t accessible to many students, this locks them out of mental healthcare either entirely or for extended periods. Counselling sessions at universities must be uncapped.
Campus counselling services rarely hire enough staff to meet student demand, forcing students to wait weeks or even months to book sessions with no mental healthcare while they wait. Universities must adequately staff counselling services to keep wait times for sessions below two weeks.
Some campus counselling services prevent students from booking sessions at all through walk-in only policies. In other services bookings can be made but only in person, not online or over the phone. But for many students with mental ill health or various disabilities, such policies prevent them from accessing sessions at all. Students must be able to book sessions in advance and through accessible methods.
At some campus counselling services students have no choice of counsellor, they're stopped from changing counsellors as needed or forced to change counsellors against their wishes, neither of which is conducive to effective mental healthcare. Students must be allowed to choose counsellors according to their needs.
Many campus counselling services don’t provide specialist services relevant to students’ needs, such as counsellors trained to support students with experiences of sexual assault, trauma, and psychological conditions other than depression and anxiety. Universities must provide counsellors with training relevant to the mental health issues students are affected by.
Universities largely fail to promote campus counselling services to all students. Many promote services inconsistently during peak times like orientation and exams but not all year, and promotion often targets first years but not other students. Universities must do more to promote services and regularly integrate promotion into communications with students.