Statistics regarding the mental health of students at Lancaster University have been released – with the results showing a huge rise in the number of students who have sought counselling help. While this is of grave concern, these results do give the impression that the stigma around mental health is disappearing – which is at least one positive. Staff numbers have also risen at the University in light of the huge increase in demand for counselling. Read on for more information and statistics.
The University released the information used in this article through a Freedom of Information request. In the 2016-17 academic year, 1,308 students sought counselling. With 13,000 students at the University, this equates to around 10% of students at the University having sought counselling – a worrying amount. In the 2012-13 academic year, just 579 students sought counselling. The number has risen hugely in the last few years, with a 9% rise in referrals from the 2015-16 academic year to the 2016-17 academic year.
Female students accounted for 62% of those seeking counselling, with males at 38%. Undergraduate students accounted for 62% of cases. 79% of those seeking counselling were Home students, with those from the EU at 8%, and International students at 13%. The statistics also showed that the early weeks in the academic year were the most popular times to seek help. This is unsurprising – given the major changes that take some adjusting to, and can exacerbate problems too.
Anxiety was the most common cause for counselling help to be sought. This was followed by depression in second. This is a similar pattern witnessed across Universities in the United Kingdom. It should be noted that not all cases were mental-health related, with 41% of cases relating to general wellbeing. Other factors leading to counselling help included bereavement or loss, psychosis, or personality problems. Waiting times were generally satisfactory – with 90% of students being seen within three weeks of a referral.
The huge rise in demand seen here at Lancaster isn’t purely limited to the institution – with other Universities reporting similar statistics. These are difficult times to be a student – with uncertainty over the future, higher tuition fees than ever before and with the job market being at an unprecedented level of competitiveness. There is a pressure like never before on students to succeed – which can lead to these mental health problems developing or aggravating. These revelations give credence to the idea that a mental health crisis is developing.
These revelations can however be seen in a positive light – such as that it appears the stigma around mental health is disappearing – leading to more people to request help. The only concern is that many students suffer in silence. Not every student suffering from ill health uses counselling services – which should be remembered when considering these statistics. Those in need are encouraged to actively seek help, there is certainly help out there for those who need help.
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These are certainly tough times to be a student. However it is encouraging to see that more people are coming forward with their mental health concerns – and that the stigma finally appears to be going away. While Universities all around the United Kingdom need to improve their current provisions for mental health, it appears that some positive steps have been taken in recent months in the battle against mental health problems. Hopefully this trend will continue. Remember you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123 – should you ever need.