Almost 1,000 students accessed counselling services at the University of St. Andrews in the 2016-17 academic year, it has been revealed. With around 9,000 students studying at St. Andrews, this means around 10% of all students have sought help. In worrying news, this figure is one of the highest in the United Kingdom. The statistics used in this article come courtesy of a Freedom of Information request.
The statistics released begin in the 2012-13 Academic year. 504 students accessed counselling services in that year. By the 2014-15 academic year, service uptake had risen to 723. By the 2016-17 academic year – the most recent on record – 992 students had sought help. As seen in the figures, the University has witnessed a continuous rise in the last few years. It should be noted however that this rise is something that has been seen across the vast majority of British Universities.
To see thousands of students seeking help across the United Kingdom is concerning. Yet there are so many pressures facing University-aged students currently. High living costs, tuition fees, uncertainty over the future and the competitiveness of the graduate job market are just some of the many issues facing students. It has been questioned by many as to how well-equipped Universities actually are in terms of their provisions for treating mental health.
In positive news, results of questionnaires pertaining to counselling revealed that the risk of suicide and self-harm lowered following a round of counselling. The majority of students at St. Andrews who sought help were undergraduates. Numbers were roughly equal in terms of the number of first, second and third year students who accessed counselling. There were still many postgraduate students seeking assistance.
Students could access counselling services for help dealing with a range of issues. Mental health conditions anxiety and depression were the most common reason. Low mood, family issues, stress and bereavement were some of the other reasons for seeking help. While it is disappointing to see so many students needing help, hopefully the counselling provided them with assistance. In the bigger picture, hopefully the stigma around mental health will continue to lessen. In any case, Universities around the United Kingdom have considerable work to do in order to address this crisis.
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These are, without doubt, very difficult times to be a student. Yet it is encouraging to see that efforts are being made to help those in need. While in general, provisions for mental health need to be increased, it does appear that positive steps have been taken by many institutions in recent times. The Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you can contact them in the event of a crisis at 116 123.