Students’ mental health problems highlighted

About one in 10 higher education students have experienced “suicidal thoughts”, according to a survey into mental health at universities.

May 20, 2013

Research by the National Union of Students also found that 20 per cent of students consider themselves to have a mental health problem.

Ninety-nine per cent of the 1,200 students quizzed in the NUS poll said they had feelings of mental distress, such as feeling down, stressed or demotivated.

Half of all students said they have had trouble sleeping, 38 per cent suffered feelings of panic and 14 per cent had considered self-harming, according to the study.

Hitting deadlines was the leading trigger for mental distress among students, with 65 per cent of those polled saying it had led to problems.

Fifty-four per cent said worries about exams had causes mental distress, while a quarter of students said finding a part-time job had caused them anguish.

On average, respondents who experience feelings of mental distress experience them once a month or more (74 per cent), and almost one third suffered mental distress every week.

Hannah Paterson, NUS disabled students’ officer, said she was particularly concerned that students were not accessing help available on campus, with just a quarter of those surveyed staying silent about mental health problems and only one in ten using care provided by their institution.

 We are currently meeting with mental health organisations in a bid to bring all stakeholders together to examine the standard of mental health care in UK universities,” Ms Paterson said.

The NUS is currently working with universities and mental health charities to see if support services for students need to be improved.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, a mental health support charity, said he was also worried by the under-reporting of mental health among students.

“Despite the high prevalence of mental health problems and stress among students, many people are not seeking help, perhaps because of the stigma that can surround mental health problems,” Mr Farmer said.

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