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Two Thirds Of Students Support Disclosure Of Mental Illness To Parents

Ben HaywardJune 12th
2019

Two-thirds of students have said they feel mental health problems should be disclosed to their parents or guardians in 'extreme circumstances’.

The yearly Student Academic Experience Survey, conducted by Advance HE and the Higher Education Policy Institute, asked more than 14,000 full-time undergraduate students about mental health for the first time. 

The study found that 66% were in favour of giving universities the power to inform a parent or guardian about their mental health issues ‘under extreme circumstances’ and a further 15% supported it ‘under any circumstances’ reports the Guardian.

Looking at wider trends in mental health, the survey also found that students reported being significantly more anxious compared to other young people. Just 16% of the students surveyed reported feeling ‘low anxiety’, compared with 37% for all those aged 20-24.

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Following the death of his son Ben at Bristol University in May 2018, James Murray has worked actively alongside the university to improve their mental health and wellbeing provision to students.

As part his recommendation, Mr Murray called for the relaxation of data protection rules that deter universities from alerting parents that their child has serious mental health problems.

Mr Murray’s suggestion prompted the then higher education minister, Sam Gyimah, to propose that students arriving at university could be asked to opt in to a system that would allow universities to contact a nominated other if they were to develop serious mental health problems, a system that has subsequently been put in place at Bristol University.

Alison Johns, the chief executive of Advance HE, said: “Student wellbeing remains a huge concern, and if a green light were needed for changes to allow universities to contact parents and guardians where an individual may have mental health problems, we have a very strong signal here in support of that change.”

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