Students have been told the Student Support Unit (SSU) has stopped offering appointments with mental health advisors, due to staff shortages. With one staff member describing the provision of mental health support at the unit as being ‘decimated’.
For the foreseeable future not all students will be able to get an appointment with an advisor. So it’s unclear who exactly will be offered support while the SSU remains understaffed.
One staff member said: “Mental health support has been decimated at the moment and its really not helping students”.
One student, wanting to remain anonymous, told The Badger: “I expect that will be a lot more difficult and overwhelming for students. I’m not sure I’d follow anything up without face-to-face advice and encouragement, it would make you feel more detached and as if you’re not cared about that much.
Without the mentor organised for me through the advisors I would be doing even worse academically and mentally. I don’t see how this is going to work.
“I don’t understand why mental health problems don’t get more priority, like staff shortages should be prevented.”
Another student said: “I waited three weeks for an appointment with an advisor and wasn’t told it would be cancelled. I can’t be the only person impacted by this; it’s quite frankly extremely poor of the university. The university has a duty of care towards students on these issues, which they are seemingly failing to provide.”
The unit has three members of staff who advise students on the options and help the university can provide when it comes giving them support with academic studies and assessments that may be impacted by their conditions. With two full-time employees on leave, a single part-time staff member has been left to give advice.
A university spokesperson provided The Badger with the following statement: “due to unprecedented levels of students wishing to register at Sussex in the autumn term, and the unexpected and temporary shortfall in advisor capacity due to a combination of maternity leave and sick leave, the SSU has implemented a series of temporary measures.
This is to ensure that students with mental-health conditions get registered with SSU in order to access the provisions available in time for the assessment period.
That is, students who provide appropriate evidence of their long-term condition and have straightforward requirements will have their registration with SSU fast tracked.
Students who present with a more complex diagnosis or set of needs do still get an appointment with an advisor to discuss the appropriate set of reasonable adjustments or to receive advice on accessing funding for other support provision.”
The Students’ Union declined to a comment.