In 2019 the Office for Students published a report stating that Black students with a declared mental health condition are more likely to drop out of university in the UK, with only 77% continuing their studies after their first year, compared with 87% of all students with a declared mental health condition, and 90% of all undergraduates.

Further to this, in 2017-18 53% of Black students with a reported mental health condition graduated with a 2:1 or a first nationally, compared to 77% of all students reporting a mental health condition and 79% of all undergraduates.

Dr Cassie Wilson, Vice-President (Student Experience), says: “The figures from the Office for Students report highlight the disparities faced by Black students with mental health conditions at universities in the UK. At Bath, we believe that we have a responsibility to remove these structural inequalities and provide all our students with an equal opportunity for achievement, success and wellbeing.”

In response to this, Student Services have been working closely with the Student Anti-Racism Action Group to develop initiatives to support the mental health of Black students at Bath, as well as listening to the wider student voice on this issue. As a result, the following initiatives are now available:

  • Black students can refer themselves for counselling with a BAME focussed counselling service if they are struggling with experiences of racism or identity. The Wellbeing team can support with this referral or students can refer themselves directly
  • the Black Students Network development programme has been established. This will be a seven-week, facilitator-run programme focussing on self-esteem, imposter syndrome and the experiences and challenges faced at university

Professor Rajani Naidoo, Head of Bath University’s Anti-Racism Taskforce says: “It is really positive to see this bespoke programme being developed to support Black students in the particular challenges they may face at universities. It is essential that we address the attainment gap faced by Black students, and particularly those also experiencing mental health difficulties.”

In addition to the above initiatives, all BAME students can access counselling with a BAME counsellor, where needed, through the Be Well-Talk Now advice line or via referral from the Wellbeing team.

To make sure that we are doing everything possible to support students of colour, Student Services has committed to completing an audit of our mental health provision with particular reference to BAME students.

Dr Cassie Wilson adds: “I look forward to hearing more about these programmes and would like to pay tribute to the students who have been instrumental in the development of them.”

Mental health: Are all students being properly supported? - Office for Students