Good mental health

March 26, 2015

The stock response to rising levels of demand for psychological and emotional support in universities is that destigmatising mental ill-health leads to more people disclosing problems (“Oxford students’ demand for counselling shoots up”, News, 12 March).

Yet, as many colleagues working in university counselling, mental health and learning support services admit, there is widespread concern that we are expanding what we regard as signs of “stress”, “anxiety” and “depression”, that more students are presenting themselves and being labelled as “vulnerable” and that we are eliding mental health and “well-being” to the point of meaninglessness.

Add into the mix the idea that league table rankings for “support” are integral to satisfaction in “the student experience”, and it becomes impossible to have a frank debate about how to estimate the real scale of mental ill-health and to allocate scarce resources.

Kathryn Ecclestone
Professor of education, University of Sheffield

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