Students take fight for mental health services to Parliament

Published: Wed 22 Aug 2018 01:25 PM
Media release:
The Wait is Over: Students are taking their fight for better mental health services to Parliament.
On Wednesday, 22 August, tertiary students will rally on Parliament Lawns demanding to be a part of the conversation of what to do about mental health in their communities.
The Wait is Over campaign has been created as a result of countless conversations between young people who see a future where mental health services are accessible to all, and communities feel comfortable talking with and supporting each other.
Led by Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) students will gather on Parliament Lawns and form a line, giving politicians a real time look at the reality of waiting lists at tertiary institutions to access counselling services.
“We’re sick of this toughen up attitude. Students are struggling and asking for help but our tertiary institutions aren’t able to keep up with the demand,” VUWSA President Marlon Drake says.
“We need the government to fund tertiary mental health providers properly.”
Currently, student counselling services are funded through the Student Services Levy (SSL) which is a fee paid by students each year, separate to their university course fees. This means any increase to student counselling comes at the expense of money going towards other valuable 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,” he says.
VUWSA Engagement Vice President Tamatha Paul says this campaign is about young people reclaiming their own mental health and wellbeing, rather than it being used as a political tool.
“The courage and bravery of those students who have chosen to share their stories, in public and in private to their friends and whānau, lay the foundations for this campaign.”
The Wait is Over is about empowering the collective voice of students to be heard in the national conversation around mental health, she says.
In the last two weeks, student leaders have been taking a banner around Victoria University campuses asking students to write messages of hope.
“We want to uplift and tautoko students everywhere through initiating a conversation that is hopeful and forward-facing. We want every student who has struggled with mental health, or knows somebody who is struggling, to know that we hear them and we support them,” Paul says.

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