Protest at UCL: Fund Our Mental Health Services!

UCL FOMHS demo

By UCL Fund Our Mental Health Services campaigners

Last year, over 2000 students at UCL signed a petition demanding more funding for our student psychological services (SPS), this petition was ignored by management. Students seeking support from SPS have to wait a minimum of 6 weeks just for an initial consultation, and even then only one third of all students ever get seen; all this in the context of a mental health crisis in our universities and an underfunded NHS.

Since then we have met with management again to present our demands: We demanded an increase in funding for SPS by £340k per year so as to pay for an additional 6.5 FTE counsellors, and the removal of the arbitrary six-session cap on the number of sessions to which each student is entitled. We also wanted to see, in the allocation of these resources, specific attention be taken to ensure that SPS and its psychologists are culturally competent, and for all employees running this service to remain in-house UCL staff and for any new employees to also be put on secure, in-house and permanent contracts

Again, management refused. Asking politely has failed – our only way to get management to meet our demands is by direct and disruptive action. UCL is obsessed with its public image, so we targeted the graduate open day to show prospective students that UCL doesn’t care about their mental health services, instead paying for glitzy vanity projects and rapid expansion plans.

At a time when universities are being rapidly marketised while managers’ salaries rise far into the six-figures (196 staff members rake in a salary of more than £140,000) there’s more than enough money to fund our mental health services.

The demonstration had a strong turnout, bringing many new faces to the campaign, to fight for our demands – highlighting how deeply this issue has resonated with UCL students. The atmosphere was good, with not a moment’s silence throughout the couple of hours long march. The Open Day was thoroughly disrupted and essentially shut down through the areas the march went through. We distributed information on the current state of UCL student psychological services to those attending the Open Day and asked them to contact the university in support of the campaign, an idea many prospective graduate students were keen on.

If you’re interested in starting a mental health campaign at your university, message our FB page: facebook.com/FundSPS