Student and staff stress increasing, study says

May 14, 2004

Stress at work is prompting increasing numbers of academics to seek counselling, according to a study by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

It suggests the number of higher education employees seeking help has risen in the past five years - particularly in old universities.

An average of 68 employees per old university sought counselling in 2002-03, compared with fewer than than 30 in 1998-99. In new universities, 35 staff on average sought help in 2002-03, while an average of 16 staff per further education college sought counselling.

The survey also suggests that a small proportion of students are "severely distressed" but the proportion "is growing every year".

John Cowley, chairman of the Association for University and College Counselling, said: "The numbers of severely distressed students continues to rise. Counselling services are expected to look after staff as well as students."

Roger Kline of lecturers' union Natfhe said "discipline, bureaucracy, long-working hours and the insecurity of casual working" were increasing stress levels.

But Universities UK said: "Work is being done... to raise awareness of counselling services available... so it is encouraging that these services are being used."

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