AMOSSHE members feed back about student mental health and suicide

17 May 2016 17:29 | Anonymous

Student Services leaders in UK higher education have contributed their feedback about a perceived increase in the amount of critical incidents being managed by Student Services – a number of which they believe may have involved suicide or attempted suicide. Members of AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation from over 50 UK higher education providers gave their views on the amount of time and resource each incident takes, noting the impact not just on those students directly involved, but also on staff and others who support those affected by these incidents.

AMOSSHE has collated a summary report of this feedback in order to share current experience of managing complex student cases between our members. Here are some of the key themes that emerged from the feedback:

  • 80% of contributors believed there was a noticeable increase in complex mental health crises among their student population, comparing 2014 to 2015.
  • 74% of contributors reported working on student incidents that had escalated to involve external authorities (such as the police or coroner) at least twice during 2015. While 26% of contributors worked on such incidents with these authorities only once or not at all during the year, another quarter (25%) had done so six or more times. Overall, 87% had worked with these authorities during 2015. Please note, however, that these incidents might not relate to students’ mental health crises.
  • 53% of contributors were not aware of any deaths by suicide or suspected suicide among their student populations during 2015. Of those contributors who did report that deaths may have been suicide, most (37%) reported only one or two such tragedies. While it would be useful to compare suicide rates among higher education students with rates for the wider population, this data is very difficult to gather. Student Services are not privy to the outcomes of coroner’s reports and police investigations, and if a student dies while away from their institution, universities are unaware of the circumstances unless informed by the next of kin or other third party.

As a professional association for Student Services leaders, AMOSSHE enables the sharing of good practice and expertise to help develop student success. Shared feedback such as this helps to give a wider context for our members as they work to support students who face mental health challenges. AMOSSHE provides a forum to share effective intervention strategies, policies and procedures to help ensure that students can achieve their full potential in higher education.

Commenting on the feedback, AMOSSHE Chair Ben Lewis said: “This evidence demonstrates the challenges universities face when dealing with unprecedented growth in demand for support. Student Services professionals are at the front line, safeguarding a more diverse, and more demanding student body. To do this they must manage increasingly complex student situations. Our members know our interventions with students are having a positive effect within the sector. It is important that institutions consider how they can deploy resource to manage the risks these situations create.”

AMOSSHE’s latest analysis of UK Student Services provision finds that annual Student Services expenditure budgets have not changed significantly in the last two years, and staff resources have also remained roughly the same.

Note to editors

AMOSSHE gathered member feedback during January and February 2016 about student mental health, critical incidents and suicide.

The information presented in this member feedback report was not collated as part of a controlled research project, and should not be presented as such. The report is a collation of members’ perceived shared experience of managing complex student cases, some of which involved suicide. The information provided has not been validated, so the findings do not represent any analysis or conclusions.

For further information please contact the AMOSSHE National Office on: info@amosshe.org.uk.

AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation is a UK non-profit professional association. Company registration number 4778650.
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