When he started working at Brunel University London 19 years ago, Terry Vass, who is now head of security, recalls that most of his work involved breaking up drunken fights outside the bars and nightclub on campus. Over the two decades he has been in the job, he has noticed a shift. Now, an increasing number of calls are for mental health incidents.
The worst times are at the start of term, when students are adjusting to being away from home, or over the holidays, when the small number who remain on campus may feel lonely and isolated. Increasingly, Vass’s security team are called out to mental health emergencies, sometimes accompanying suicidal students to A&E and staying with them. “We spend as much time as it takes,” says Vass. On occasion, he has spent six hours with a student in distress.