A recent study has suggested the number of students who seek mental health support whilst studying at university has increased by 50% in the last 5 years.
The National Union of Students said young people are under ever increasing pressure to perform. 83 universities provided full data for the period 2012 to 2017 showing the number of students seeking help rose from 50,900 to 78,100. The number of students going to university dropped slightly over the same period.
Reports have shown that 1 in 4 students will experience a mental health problem whilst at university. The impact is more than half state they struggle to complete everyday tasks. Rising tuition fees, insufficient maintenance loans and increased pressure to succeed have all been cited as reasons for the increase in those seeking help.
Perhaps also as it becomes more acceptable and de-stigmatised to talk about our mental health this could be a contributing factor to the rise in students seeking help. Many students report one of the biggest problems is the financial strain going to university places on them.
The majority report anxiety and depression as the most common form of mental health illness and studying is a contributory factor.
Mental health should be taken as seriously as physical health; especially at university when students are experiencing new things, meeting new people and are away from family and friends and their support network. The impact for students with poor mental health can be devastating. We would always suggest talking to someone and asking for help.
How to get Help
Nearly all universities have a student support team, the Student Union can be a good place to start to obtain further information regarding access. The service is often referred to as a Wellbeing Centre and many universities also have a counselling service where support for anxiety, depression and grief, for example, can be arranged.
Some people don’t feel comfortable accessing help from university, GPs can refer to support services.
The scope of mental health provision can play a part in choosing which university to go to, further information of what’s available can be found on the universities’ home page. Accessible support may include:
Daily drop-in sessions
Where any student can speak to a counsellor or health advisor without an appointment.
Coping mechanisms and exam stress
Learning relaxation techniques and time management strategies.
A telephone advice service that operates in the evenings and some offer online chat too.
Stress management workshops
Stress for a student can come from a number of areas and advice and coping techniques are delivered.
Courses are accessed via the student’s laptop and cover topics such as managing anxiety, managing depression, managing stress and body and self-image.
As well as support available at university there are many organisations that offer dedicated phone lines, email correspondence and walk-in centres, these include: