The majority of new and returning students at Bristol University have signed themselves up to a scheme that will allow university staff members to contact parents and guardians if mental health problems arise.
The university has been hit with 11 suspected suicides in two years, HuffPost UK reports, with this opt-in scheme one of the first of its kind here in the UK. Students sign up to the mental health alert system at the point of registration, with parents and campaigners alike arguing that this is one way growing concerns about student mental health can be addressed immediately.
However, many universities made mention of data protection laws as a barrier to running this kind of opt-in system, with information disclosure only approved in limited circumstances and only among bodies considered vital to a student’s health, like the NHS.
Professor Hugh Brady, Bristol University’s vice-chancellor, explained: “Our students are adult learners with all the rights of privacy enjoyed by other adults.
“However, we believe that where a student is experiencing difficulties they can benefit hugely from the early involvement of a parent, former teacher, friend or guardian – involvement that vitally requires the student’s unequivocal consent.
“We are delighted that 94 per cent of all our students, both those new to Bristol and those returning, have signed up to this new policy.”
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