The number of self-referrals to Open Door has nearly tripled in the last academic year, a Freedom of Information request by York Vision has found.
The number rose from 1293 self-referrals in the 2019/20 academic year to 3526 in 2020/21 – a 172% increase.
Vision also found that funding for Open Door and Disability Services has been steadily increasing since at least 2014.
By the end of the 2019/20 academic year the University had spent £692,000 on Open Door and Disability Services. This was an increase of £210,000 from the previous year.
The University stressed the importance of their student wellbeing services during the pandemic in the 2020/21 academic year.
On their Coronavirus webpage, the University state that they are “still here to support you”, and offer students “support from the team of mental health practitioners at Open Door”.
In late 2020, the University revealed to Vision that it planned to give £2 million to Open Door and Disability Services in the next year. It marked one of the largest known budget hikes for a University department.
At that time, a University spokesperson said that: “We are not complacent and we continue to work closely with our students, YUSU, GSA, the NHS, and other partners across York and the region to ensure our students receive the appropriate help and support when they most need it.
This increase of budget followed an extensive 2016 report on student mental health by the University.
This found that the number of students declaring a mental health concern has been increasing, and found evidence that, at any one time point, over one in four students in the UK were experiencing clinically-recognisable mental ill-health.
Until the publication of the University’s Annual Financial Statement, it is still currently unclear how Open Door and the Disability Services plan on spending the rest of their increased budget.
A University spokesperson said: “The pandemic has been a challenging time, as shown by the increase of self-referrals to the Open Door service.
“Recognising the need to meet this increase in demand, we expanded our budget to recruit Departmental Open Door Practitioners and Wellbeing Officers. The University also put in place Togetherall, an online support service for student
“The Open Door service will continue to support students’ wellbeing needs, and will closely monitor demand and any issues arising from our student population. We encourage those who need help to contact the Open Door team or fill in a self-referral form.”