Confidentiality

The Counselling Service and Mental Health Advisory Service provide confidential support about psychological wellbeing and mental health issues for all students studying at the University. Many students who use our services discuss sensitive personal information with us and it is important that we ensure that we keep this information confidential. Students who share information with us should be secure in the knowledge that any information they disclose to us is handled in a respectful and appropriate manner, we believe this is important in encouraging students to come and seek help and support.

This leaflet explains how we record and store personal and confidential information. It also explains how we sometimes share information and the occasions when it may not be possible to keep all information completely confidential.

As part of our commitment to supporting students we ask all students to complete and sign a confidentiality declaration. Please take time to read this information so you are aware of the reasons we ask you to do this. If you have any concerns about confidentiality please speak to any member of either Service.

Who are we?

The Counselling Service and Mental Health Advisory Service are part of Student Services which provide information, advice, guidance and counselling to all students. Student Services are split into two main areas incorporating a number of specialist advisers. The diagram below shows how the services are organised.

All staff in this area are professionally trained in either counselling and/or mental health and are very experienced in supporting students with a range of issues. All students are encouraged to come and discuss any concerns or support requirements with us as soon as possible. Our services are available throughout the year.

Sharing information within Counselling and Mental Health Advisory Services

From your first contact with the Counselling Service or Mental Health Advisory Service the support we offer is confidential within these two Services and we work to professional standards of confidentiality. Our counsellors work to British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy standards of practice including ethical guidelines covering confidentiality (the BACP Ethical Framework can be found on their website at: www.bacp.co.uk) whilst our Mental Health Advisors are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council or other relevant body and work in accordance with their standards of professional practice, information is available on their website at: www.hpc-uk.org . Your records will only be shared by staff within the Counselling Service and Mental Health Advisory Service on a need to know basis until we have your permission to discuss your issue with someone else. No information will be divulged to anyone outside of these two Services without your express permission and we will usually ask you to sign a release of information consent form to confirm this in writing.

Sharing information within Student Services

Confidentiality is important and we want students to be assured that the information they provide is treated with sensitivity and care. However, in order to fully support students it is sometimes necessary to work with other colleagues within Student Services. In these situations we would ask your permission to share relevant information across teams (see diagram) or departments to enable us to provide you with the most appropriate support. We will explain our reasons to you and advise you of whom we feel needs to have information in order to support you. In such cases we will then ask for your signed consent to do this but you can tell us if you do not wish us to do this. You can also indicate your preferences on the registration forms.

Sharing information outside of Student Services in the wider University

We will not share information about you with other University Departments or other staff within the University without your permission. If we do have your permission to share information we will only share the information needed to ensure that appropriate support is in place. In some situations you may wish to restrict the type of information we share, if you wish to do this then please discuss this with a member of staff from the Counselling Service or Mental Health Advisory Service. However, if you do wish to restrict the sharing of your information this may limit the support and effectiveness of help that we can offer you. You will be asked to confirm who you are willing for us to contact/discuss your support with on your consent form.

Sharing information outside the University

Finally, in some instances, staff may need to share information with organisations outside the University to ensure support is in place and this includes the Student Health Service (a specialist service commissioned and paid for by the University to provide health support to students)as well as services provided by the LGoS, N.H.S or Local Authorities. You will be asked to confirm who you are willing for us to contact/discuss your support with on your consent form.

Exceptions

If we have serious concerns about your safety or the safety of others we may have to share information with other people from the University or from outside organisations. Wherever possible, and where the delay would not increase the likelihood of harm, we would try to discuss this with you and seek your consent to share relevant information. However, this may not always be possible; in these circumstances we would discuss with you our reasons for sharing this information with others as soon as possible after this had taken place. These exceptional circumstances are rare and would arise only:

Where there is risk of harm to yourself or others, including where there are child protection issues or disclosure is required by law e.g. a court subpoenas records required in court or under prevention of terrorism legislation.

If we are legally obliged to provide information to outside agencies we will do this in line with the Data Protection Act.

Supervision

counsellors or mental health advisors within appropriate supervision structures. This would include caseload supervision with an appropriate independent professional clinical supervisor and appropriate line management structures within Student Services. Supervisors also operate within relevant professional guidelines e.g. the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the Health and Care Professions Council or other relevant professional bodies.

Storing information

Any information will be stored on your student case file which is held exclusively by the Counselling Service and Mental Health Advisory Service. The file can be paper, electronic or a mixture of the two. All files are held securely in line with the University data policies and the Data Protection Act. Staff within the Counselling Service and Mental Health Advisory Service will only keep information that is relevant and appropriate. Paper based information is kept in locked secure areas within both Services and electronic files are held securely with limited access and appropriate protection. Currently we keep data for 3 years but from 01/08/2014 the Counselling Service and Mental Health Advisory Service will keep information for six years after the academic year in which you last had contact.

Access to your records

The Counselling and Mental Health Advisory Services comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 and respect the rights of users to request access to their records. For further information about accessing your records please ask your counsellor or mental health advisor or visit the data protection pages which can be found on the University website: http://www.liv.ac.uk/legal/data_protection and follow the link to the Data Protection Policy where you can find information about requesting access to your records and a link to the Data Protection Enquiry/Subject Access Request Form.

More information

If you have any concerns about confidentiality please do speak to any member of the Counselling Service or Mental Health Advisory Service. Information on the University's data protection policy can be found at:

www.liv.ac.uk/legal/data_protection