Hello, my name is Lottie and I’m the current Mental Health Officer at Imperial College Union. I have undertaken a review of the Student Counselling and Mental Health Advice Service, in order to gain feedback on the waiting times, session numbers, usefulness and suggested improvements, as well as demographic information on users. I started this endeavour as a means to explore students’ opinions on the service, as having helpful mental health support at university is vital, especially amidst the current mental health crisis post-pandemic.??
As a student who has used the counselling service before, I believe strongly in the necessity of accessible, reliable and useful counselling and mental health support at university. Many of my friends around me have also used the service during their courses, with mixed reviews. When I became Mental Health Officer, the main issue students brought up to me was the shortage of counselling appointments available, and I felt this was a problem that needed to be investigated. In a high pressure environment such as Imperial, it is almost inevitable students will need support at some point during their time here, so having a mental health service students feel supported by is imperative.??
Over the past few months, I have been finalising the questions I wanted answering about the service, and in early April, the survey was launched on social media platforms. There were around 50 complete responses overall, which was excellent and much more than anticipated given the short time frame. All feedback was collated to produce a short report with the survey findings. Imperial students clearly value the service greatly and many found it useful, but the research identified some issues around length of waiting times students are experiencing. Another issue identified was the small number of sessions offered. However, many students expressed that the quality of the sessions and their experience with their counsellor was excellent.??
I believe that a lot of the issues raised in the research could be overcome if sufficient funding was provided for the service to employ another counsellor. I hope to use these findings as a platform on which to launch more in-depth research in the future, as well as to hopefully lobby college to increase staff funding into the service. During Mental Health Awareness Week especially, it is important we look after our mental health, but also that we know where to turn if problems occur. This research will hopefully be used to improve the service, so students always feel supported when they need it most.?
A few quotes from the survey:??
My counsellor was good and nice to talk to, but the limited number of sessions made me less comfortable with discussing my problems?
Not enough sessions to get to the heart of my problems but useful enough to have short term impact
The sessions were a good space to talk about my problems but the amount of sessions was not enough for me to achieve what I wanted to
Counselling was great but 5 sessions was too short and it ended too abruptly