With a recent survey released by the BBC and poor mental health spreading nationwide, it really is time to start questioning whether our education institutes are really doing enough to support university students with mental health issues.
The new study released by the BBC showed that the number of university students seeking help for their mental health has risen by 50% since 2012.
To explore the issue, I spoke to BSc Mental Health Nursing graduate Meghan Thomas and asked her opinion on the statistics. “On one hand, it is slightly worrying that the numbers have increased so dramatically and it is clear that more students are feeling under pressure to perform. However, from a nurse’s perspective it can also be seen in a positive light. The stigma around mental health creates fear towards seeking help, so seeing students come forward could mean the stigma has died down in the past five years. The more students that come forward means the more support we can give”.
From 2016 to 2017 £36.6 million pounds was spent on mental health services at universities. Considering that 50% of today’s school leavers now go onto universities, the pressure to surpass peers is as high as ever. With 75% of mental health issues developing by the age of 24, it’s no surprise that over the past 5 years the budget of mental health services in the NHS has increased by 43%. Has this been contributed by the number of young people in more demanding levels of education?
London students are also among the increasing numbers of people reaching out for support. Russell group university Imperial college London revealed they saw a recent 73% increase of students seeking support across student services.St Mary’s University in Twickenham is one university that has seen three times as many students seeking wellbeing support over the past five years. I spoke to St Mary’s second year student David Abernethy and asked him what he thought of the results of the recent BBC study.“My university encourages students to come forward and speak about their mental health issues. I think the increase of students getting help at my university is due to the general discussion on mental health improving drastically and the huge stigma that there once was is starting to die. This helped me get help from the wellbeing team and I have never looked back. They offered me counselling and give me around the clock support”.
On asking David how he feels about the recent escalated figures, and how it could affect how students receive help in the future, he said“I don’t see the increase as a bad thing, I see it as a chance for the university to realise how much help students really do require help and I’m glad that students are finally getting the help they need”.
The recent surge in mental health cases has proven that universities generally are well equipped to deal with these issues. Nevertheless, addressing this epidemic is far more than just a grand gesture, see it more as an ethical responsibility for students past and present. If the university is happy enough to carry a successful student on their Alumni, they need to be prepared to carry a struggling student through their toughest times as well.