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Tertiary students rally for better mental health services

Tertiary students took a fight for better mental health services to Parliament yesterday, rallying in support of a campaign for better mental health in their communities.

The students have created The Wait is Over campaign, which wants to make mental health services accessible to all.

The students formed a line on Parliament’s lawn, to give politicians an example of the kind of waiting lists students face at tertiary institutions to access counselling services.

“We’re sick of this ‘toughen up’ attitude, said Marlon Drake, president of the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association.

“Students are struggling and asking for help but our tertiary institutions aren’t able to keep up with the demand,” he said.

“We need the government to fund tertiary mental health providers properly.”

Student counselling services are funded through the Student Services Levy, a fee paid by students each year, separate to their university course fees.

Any increase to student counselling comes at the expense of money going towards other student welfare services on campus like health services, childcare, employment and financial advice, and advocacy.

“We want the government to recognise that tertiary student mental health services are already set up and servicing one of the most at-risk demographics, but they need a better funding model to be able to be effective in helping young people through difficult periods,” said Drake.