Student Disability, Counselling and Mental Health Service Design & Delivery: Navigating Paternalism and Overmedicalisation in UK Higher Education.

In recent decades universities, including Oxford, have grown and diversified their disability, counselling, mental health and welfare service in response to steadily increasing numbers of students seeking professional support, widely reported as the post-1990’s ‘crisis in student mental health’. A persistent challenge lies in the task of how to best understand the diverse array of underlying needs of the students requesting help, and this how to shape and organise our response. One notable underlying trend has been the growing medicalisation of students’ emotional experience, whether through the structural workings of Disabled Students Allowance or an emphasis on diagnosis linked symptom reduction within student counselling, Curiously, and potentially relatedly, there appears to be a Duty-ofCare-Anxiety-Induced encroaching Culture of Paternalism descending over the realm of student staff interactions which, may, inadvertently, be undermining the self-same courage, resilience and self-determination it seeks to nurture and protect. In this presentation we will consider the risks and benefits of these, and allied, conceptual models in the design and delivery of these and other paradigm shifts in UK student support is informing both our service strategy and conversations with colleagues across the Collegiate University. We invite you to help us consider questions such as:

- How useful is the medical model of student mental health? Are there any risks? If so, what might the alternatives be? – Given that 27% of Oxford students meet the legal definition of disability, how might we reassess and rearrange our approach to teaching, assessment and welfare services? – What are the most useful frameworks for organising and measuring the work of Student Counselling and Disability Services? – Is a culture of paternalism in UK Higher Education undermining the developmental task of emerging adulthood? Are we concerned? What is the alternative?

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Meeting ID: 951 9940 1096
Passcode: 937384