Young people’s health is declining for each year. According to Student Health Counselling, it is a struggle to meet the growing needs. This year, the option for self-referral closed for Christmas earlier than ever before. ¨
Text by: Tindra Englund. Translation by: Carl- William Ersgård
“This is of course stressful and frustrating for our employees. When all you want to do is help out it is difficult to have to refer students somewhere else”, says Lena Örnberg, department manager at Student Health Counselling.
More self-referrals than ever
Only during week 44, 49 students sent a self-referral to Student Health Counselling. This is more than ever before, and combined with a high application pressure during autumn, it forced Student Health Counselling to close for self-referrals early to catch up.
“Our drop-in is open until Christmas but also received so many visitors that for a couple of weeks, we had to send students home without having spoken to a counsellor”, Lena Örnberg says.
Struggle to meet the needs
The numbers speak their clear language, and for each year, the number of students seeking help at Student Health Counselling increases. At the same time, there has not been a significant increase in grants, which has made it even more difficult to meet the demands.
Student Health Counselling follows the academic year and is closed over Christmas, Easter and summer.
“The staff at Student Health Counselling has a teacher’s contract, meaning that full time is equivalent to an 87,5 percent employment”, Lena Örnberg says.
According to her, there is a need today to increase capacity at Student Health Counselling.
“We have begun discussing staying open for a larger part of the year. But at the same time, it would mean increased costs for the University, money that would be moved from already under-financed programmes”, Lena Örnberg says.
That Student Health Counselling is forced to stay closed for certain periods of time contributes to an even higher application pressure before and after these periods, according to Lena Örnberg.
“There are some clear peaks in the number of visitors each year. One such peak is in October/November, after which is levels out before Christmas. This year, we had to close for self-referrals a few weeks early, which is unfortunate”, Lena Örnberg says.
Students especially vulnerable
Lena Örnberg says that mental illnesses are increasing among your people each year, and there are also studies proving that students are among the especially vulnerable.
“If you look at the mission statement of Student Health Counselling, it clearly states that we are not for emergencies but a complement to primary and psychiatric care when it comes to study related mental problems. Unfortunately, our experience is that the primary care and adult psychiatry in Skåne is currently so overladen that they refer students to us”, Lena Örnberg says.
As Student Health Counselling refers students with non-study related problems to the primary care, she admits that there is a risk that these persons are being sent back and forth.
New booking system
Student Health Counselling has plans for streamlining its work for 2017.
“During 2016, we have been working on how to use our resources in the best possible way. Among other things, we will implement a new booking system in spring 2017”, Lena Örnberg says.
Today, students usually approach Student Health Counselling through a self-referral, but since there is a lot of administration involved with these, there will instead be a booking system where the students can schedule themselves during available times.
“We do this so that there will be a quicker entry for students, and so that counsellors can spend as much of their time as possible on actually meeting students”, Lena Örnberg says.
During 2017, Lund University have also planned to survey the students for their needs when it comes to support institutions at the University.
“We hope to find out if we are doing the right thing, or if there is something else we should do. And if we need to increase our organisation”, Lena Örnberg says.
Money well spent
Lena Örnberg does think that the University can motivate spending money on projects such as the 350-years anniversary, and that it is good so put resources into a broader recruitment of students.
“But when you recruit students, you must also have a system to take care of them. I personally believe that all investments into support institutions is money well spent, since they can help students feel good during they time at the University and manage to complete their studies”, says Lena Örnberg, department manager at Student Health Counselling.
- Student Health Counselling is for problems related to student life. For example: stress, performance and exam anxiety, fear of speaking in front of others, procrastination, worry, alcohol related problems, sleep disorders and depression.
- Student Health Counselling offers courses and workshops in various subjects each term, but also individual talks related to your situation as well as internet based treatment. The ambition at Student Health Counselling is to help students find the right help, even when what is offered at Student Health Counselling is not enough.