Mental health problems are on the rise in universities, but support is too fragmented

In universities, mental health problems such as depression and anxiety afflict one in four students, while student suicides have reached a record level in recent years and dropouts have trebled. The burden of mental health illnesses is only likely to increase as stigma recedes and more people come forward with their sufferings. According to the Institute for Public Policy Research, five times as many students as 10 years ago have disclosed a mental health issue to their university.

It’s well established that the NHS is underfunded in this area: adult patients with moderate mental health needs can wait upwards of 18 weeks for psychological wellbeing services. Yet university counselling services are stretched too – across the UK, universities are staffed at a quarter to a third of what is required. At my university, students must wait up to five weeks to receive on average just four one-on-one counselling sessions. That is not surprising: there are only 15 counsellors on payroll, eight of whom are part-time.

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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26 March 2019