Mental health support - Confidentiality and data protection

The service respects your privacy. The Mental Health Support service is part of the Student Counselling and Personal Development Service within Learning Support and Wellbeing. Any information you give us is strictly confidential within these services. We do not pass on personal information about you, including your attendance, to anyone outside the service (such as parents, tutors and placement staff).

There are four possible exceptions to this rule:

1. Where you give us expressed consent to disclose information (for example talking to a general practitioner (GP), Community Mental Health Teams or The Zone).

2. Where the law requires us to break confidentiality (we are talking about serious crime such as terrorism and drug-trafficking, rather than misdemeanours).

3. If you give us information that leads us to believe that you, or someone else, is at serious and imminent risk of harm (also see fitness to practice below) then we may take steps to minimise this danger. Any action would usually be discussed with you first. It is important to emphasise that no one will be told who does not need to know.

4. If you are admitted to hospital as a result of your mental health we will inform your faculty to ensure they are aware of the reason for your absence. The information shared will be minimal and on a need to know basis to ensure that you receive sensitive support when you return to university.

Supervision

Mental health workers are required to receive clinical supervision for their work to ensure quality of practice. Your sessions will be discussed in supervision, which is confidential and undertaken with an experienced practitioner.

Fitness to practice

If you are training to be a doctor, nurse, teacher or Allied Health Professional, the University/Peninsula Medical School also has a duty of care to the members of the public. In exceptional circumstances, where a mental health worker feels that the difficulties you are experiencing places people in your care at risk of harm, we would follow an agreed protocol with the relevant school/department to enable you to access additional and appropriate support. Where issues emerge regarding your fitness to practice we would also raise this with the relevant occupational health department, and make a referral. You would be included in and supported through this process wherever possible.

Record keeping and data protection

It's considered good practice for mental health workers to keep records of their client work. If you use the service you will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement confirming you have received the data protection information and that you consent for us to keep details of your sessions; these records only contain brief and factual information. Information is held on a password protected database (we no longer keep paper records) and kept for a period of six years, at this point it will be deleted.

Access to notes

Under the terms of the 1998 Data Protection Act, you have a right to access all notes kept on you. If those notes contain references to other individuals these may not be made available to you, as data protection is also granted to third parties.

If your file includes a letter or additional information from the person responsible for your clinical care, such as a GP or psychiatrist, consent from the relevant practitioner must be obtained before the correspondence is disclosed.

If you wish to see your file, you should put a request in writing to the Team Leader of the Student Counselling and Personal Development Service, Anne Bentley, giving at least ten days’ notice.

Complaints

Although we provide a high quality, professional service, if you feel we have fallen short of our high standards please raise this with your mental health worker in the first instance. If you would like to speak to someone else you may always contact the Team Leader, Anne Bentley. Any concern will be handled with sensitivity.

Formal complaints should be addressed via the University’s student complaints procedure.