Going to university is a big change in the life of a young person, and the progression into adulthood can carry many obstacles. Greater freedom, responsibility and pressures can have an impact on psychological well-being, and a new study from the BBC suggests that students are increasingly looking for help when it comes to their mental health.
New analysis from the BBC shows that there has been a 53% increase in the number of students seeking mental health support from the academic years 2012-2017. The figures are more startling considering that there has been a 1% decrease in the national UK student population, as fewer students are going to university.
What did the study entail?
The BBC contacted 172 public universities in the UK, and only used data that could be applied across the five academic years. They included meetings with counselling services and other mental health advice services as part of the study, and used a student age range of 17-24.
The study also analysed the budget changes that the universities had made in the five academic years for funding mental health services.
More on the methodology of the study can be found here.
What were the findings?
The figures show a rise from 50,901 to 78,601 students in the UK seeking help in just 5 years, which represents a 53% increase. From 2012-2017, the overall combined budget change of the 85 universities for which 5 years of data were available, was a 43% increase - £25.5 million was spent in 2012, rising to £36.6m in 2017.
What has been the reaction?
Despite the rise in students accessing mental health services, responses from government and student bodies have pointed to structural barriers that remain and the stigma that still surrounds mental health, and called for a more guided approach towards how budgets are used.
Eva Crossnan Jory, NUS Vice President, said that not enough money has been invested into professional counselling services. She said that investment has been too focused on well-being projects which, while undoubtedly useful, are not an adequate substitute.
University Minister for the Department for Education, Sam Gyimah, said:
'Getting individuals to admit to suffering from poor mental health is, however, just one half of the battle; the other is ensuring we have the services in place to support them.'
There are many organisations that can help you talk through your mental health. The mental health charity Mind has created a web page with a list of contact information for several of these organisations, and their respective hotlines for whatever your circumstances may be.