Mental health starts early

February 26, 2015

Thank you for raising the pressing issue of student mental well-being (“Diversity driving demand for mental healthcare”, News, 19 February). Every university has a pastoral duty of care for its students, and especially those still in their teens who may be living far away from home for the first time.

This month, we held the first meeting in London of the European ADOCARE mental health programme for young people with “mental health problems”. A key lesson was to develop both prevention and early intervention within national systems for mental healthcare.

Universities are having to react to young people whose distress has probably been festering since the age of 14 or 15. Counselling, befriending and financial help all have a pastoral role to play, as do (multi-faith) chaplaincies. The missing part is how, at heart, university managers value students “as competition hots up in the global bazaar for this multibillion-pound” business (“Don’t let others ruin your name”, Leader, 19 February). If that materialistic “bazaar” creates a spiritual vacuum, who cares if a few more young customers implode?

Woody Caan
Editor, Journal of Public Mental Health
Duxford, Cambridge

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