Warnings have been issued about the rising number of students who are struggling to cope with university life as there has been a sharp increase in the demand for counselling.
These services are currently facing an annual rise in demand of about 10% which equates to at least 115,000 students. The report from the Higher Education Funding Council for England even found that one institution witnessed an annual increase of more than 50%.
The new data also found that students are seeking help for more serious issues compared to just four years ago. In 2012 the most common issues reported were homesickness and relationships. Todays students are seeking counselling because of anxiety, depression, low mood and self harm.
Universities have expressed concerns about this “massive problem” and say that more needs to be done when it comes to accepting their pastoral responsibilities. The University of Reading which has experienced a 20% year-on-year increase in students wanting help from counsellors says that students are feeling more pressure than ever before.
The university’s head of wellbeing, Alicia Pena Bizama said that as well as the typical issues of loneliness and relationships, students are now worrying about the rising costs of studying, fearing not being able to live up to expectations and feeling uncertain about job prospects.
Students have also cited the ever-present role of social media as a cause of these issues because they feel it has fueled a culture of constant comparison which leads to feelings of inadequacy:
“As well as being a first class student, you have to be a first class person. You have to be performing socially and academically - it’s a nightmare, you’re constantly on.”
Although universities are getting better at responding to mental health problems and making it easier for students to access counselling services, Dr Caleb, head of counselling at Brunel University says that there needs to be more consistency in the quality of services available.
If you think that you or anyone you know could be suffering with mental health issues, please feel free to contact Life Works in the strictest of confidence and we will be more than happy to help.