78% of students have experienced mental health issues in the last year

Students mental health

Going to university isn’t easy. It’s a major life change. You’ll probably leave your friends and family to go to a strange town, be expected to make new friends and build a new life with little experience,exam stress, horrible housing and the fact you have no money and it’s so expensive to be there. That’s a huge amount of pressure, and a hard combination to deal with, so it’s no surprise that students are struggling to cope.

A recent survey from the NUS found that this year, eight out of 10 students (78%) say that they have experienced mental health issues in the last year. Worryingly a third of the respondents (33%) also said they had had suicide thoughts.

The most recent data for student suicide, is from the office for National Statistics who say that 112 full-time students took their lives in 2012.

More than half (54%) of respondents who reported having experienced mental health problems said that they did not seek support, while a third said they would not know where to get mental health support from at their college or university if they needed it, while 40% reported being nervous about the support they would receive from their institution.

Maddy Kirkman, disabled students’ officer for the NUS, said: “These findings are deeply concerning, and reaffirm the stark challenges that persist around providing effective support to students in universities and colleges. Alongside the impact of funding cuts to student support, including maintenance grants and the disabled students’ allowance, this shows a worrying lack of concern for students living with mental health issues.”

Jeremy Corbyn spoke out recently to say that lecturers and university staff should be doing more to assist students seeking help for mental health problems. Saying that all too often young people were being let down by a lack of adequate, easy to access services which maintained discretion on campuses.

UWE university has set up a new scheme aiming to help new students emotionally acclimatise to adult life, in response to the growing calls for universities across the country to deal with student mental health issues.

A big problem is the lazy student stereotype, or the drunken, stoned one. It’s easy to ignore that these can be signs of mental illness. You may not even know you are suffering with a mental illness at all. The NUS says that key signs of a mental health problem if you’re student include weight gain or loss, decline in personal hygiene and poor attendance at lectures. You may also do too much work, become withdrawn, or be more agitated or anxious than usual.

If you are feeling persistently unhappy, or that you can no longer cope, don’t keep it a secret. Go and talk to your university and see a doctor, as this can ease academic pressures as well as mental ones.

If you need to talk to someone, there’s always the Samaritans. You can call them - 116 123 (free), or email - jo@samartians.org.