Demand for psychological support services on campus has risen by 16 per cent over the past three years, according to a poll of the Heads of University Counselling Services, part of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy’s Universities and Colleges division, of which a third responded, which was published on 6 December.
Students who met with a university counsellor attended an average of 4.5 counselling sessions last year, the survey says.
Anxiety, depression, relationship issues, academic problems and self-identity issues are the most common themes raised by students, the survey says.
Students were increasingly using online counselling to seek help, with an 85 per cent increase in students seeking help in this way, the survey also says.
Patti Wallace, lead advisor for university and college counselling at BACP, said the issue of higher university fees, job market competition and the challenges of going through considerable life transition had been mentioned as a reason for student stress.
“We are also seeing signs that students are coming to us with more complex, serious and disturbing problems,” she said.
“For some services, this is a result of individuals being unable to access longer-term NHS psychological support in a timely manner,” she added.
Some counsellors say they are finding it difficult to refer students to the local community mental health team, she added.
“In order to support students, we must maintain sufficient access to counselling and ensure that those who need our help can access it in a timely and appropriate way,” she said.