Universities only contacting families of students in crisis once consent given

Universities only contacting families of students in crisis once consent given

Universities are only contacting the families of suicidal students during a mental health crisis once they have obtained consent, it has been reported.

Only 28 universities have taken up a scheme to contact the parent or guardian of a student in crisis, according to The Times.

The opt-in programme, which was developed following the death of University of Bristol student Ben Murray in 2018, allows students to nominate a safe contact for universities to reach in a crisis, if the student consents.

The Times has found only four of Britain’s leading universities have implemented the scheme, with seven of the leading Russell Group universities not using the programme.

The paper reports 54 out of 118 universities that responded to freedom of information requests said they use students’ emergency or next-of-kin details on a “case-by-case basis”, but only after they have gained consent.

Bereaved parents told The Times this risks the lives of students who stop engaging.

Ben’s father James said: “Consent gained at registration enables the university to seek help with a student who is not engaging, won’t present themselves and is deemed a cause for serious concern.

“The key word in mental health is ‘proactive’ and consent gained at registration puts the university on the front foot when it comes to safety.”

The University of Bristol, which pioneered the opt-in scheme, had participation rates of more than 90% in its first year and 89% in 2020-21.

It was used 98 times at Bristol between November 2021 and June.

Published: by Radio NewsHub
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