Politicians urged to make mental health key election priority

Stressed student

Students appeal to MSPs to make mental health a key election priority 

3rd March 2016 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Mental health remains one of the key issues affecting students’ voting behaviour ahead of the Scottish parliament elections, claims the National Union of Students Scotland 

On the day Mental Health Awareness day is launched (3 March), the body is urging politicians to improve support for students experiencing mental ill-health as exam stress remains one of the key issues affecting young people's mental health. 

When student representatives were asked to vote on their top three priorities, improved support for students with mental ill-health was chosen alongside a right to bursary support for further education students, and year-round support through improved grants and summer funding.

NUS Scotland is highlighting three areas of mental health support students want parties and candidates in May’s election to address.

These are: specific reference to support for students and young people in the Scottish Government’s new mental health strategy; better coordination of mental health provision for students moving around the country; and greater efforts from universities and colleges to support mental wellbeing.

We know there are shortfalls in the mental health and wellbeing services available to students

Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland president, said: “Student mental health was the issue identified as a top priority by representatives from students’ associations the length and breadth of the country, underlining the need for change on a national scale. The fact that students identified mental health support as one of the areas in most need of reform highlights the need for immediate cross-party action.

“While research from NUS Scotland’s Think Positive campaign has highlighted a number of factors associated with students’ lives which can have a detrimental impact on their mental wellbeing, but often these unique issues get overlooked.

"We know there are shortfalls in the mental health and wellbeing services available to students, with no obligation for universities or colleges to provide these vital services, or even a meet minimum level of support for students with mental ill-health."

Students will be rallying outside the Scottish Parliament on the final day of parliamentary business, 23 March, demanding improvements to mental health support, as well as reforms to the student support system.