Parents have been left shocked at learning that the universities their children attended had not informed them of the mental health crisis their children had been in.
In some cases, the mental health issues have led to the tragic loss of life, via suicide.
Universities are bound to the legal requirements of confidentiality laws – and these cannot be broken, regardless of how severe the young person’s condition is.
And yes of course, confidentiality has to be respected - however with the growing rise of mental health issues and pressures on the systems to meet demand - you would have thought that a young person’s primary support system – you - their parent - would be the best people to be informed.
Unfortunately, this is not a knew debate – the questions arise each time there is the tragic death of a student - yet the problem has still to be addressed.
The proposal of an 'opt-in' system appears to be a logical solution. This is where, at the beginning of each year, a student chooses to ‘allow’ or ‘prohibit’ the university from getting in touch with parents if there are serious problems that they face.
The fact that this - easily implemented, common-sense solution - has not been adopted by the majority of universities (only 10% of them!),feeds into the general lack of respect for the parenting role that is displayed throughout the schooling of children.
It’s the reason why I left teaching myself, to begin a movement where parents are empowered with the knowledge and the tools to protect, and equip their children to manage the harsh realities of this world. And it all start with the parent and child connectedness.
If your child is at university, my advice is to have a conversation with them to discuss the ‘opt in’ solution.
If your child is not yet at university – great!
You can begin having these types of conversations with them earlier on – that explore the relationship between their safety, confidentiality, and your support.
Please note that confidentiality in relation to your child’s emotional wellbeing, health and sexual health are already things that the school, and other agencies can legally keep from you, once they hit their teen years.
Obviously one of the main attractions for university life is to get away from parental interference – however – if this is explained in the context of supporting your child in extreme circumstances by explaining how children have died without parents ever being aware or given the opportunity to support their child – I’m sure you will face minimal resistance.
If your child agrees to this, they can then, with your guidance, inform the university via email, that they give consent to you being informed if there are any life-threatening, or what the university deem as serious incidents, involving them.
Ensure that the email is acknowledged and that this is clearly stated on your child’s record, so that it can not be missed by any of the services that operate within the university.
Taking action should bring you more peace of mind.
If you want more information on how to build connected relationships with your older children, do have a look at the courses available here: https://teen-behaviour.com/courses