Hundreds of Students Accessing Mental Health Services at Heriot-Watt University


Hundreds of students have been accessing Mental Health services at Heriot-Watt University, recent statistics show. In total, 457 students sought counselling help at the University in the 2016-17 academic year. With around 9,000 students at the institution, this means around 5% of all students have sought help. This is one of the lower figures seen in the United Kingdom – and the University appears to be battling hard to help those in need. The statistics used in this article come courtesy of a Freedom of Information request.


Behind the joy of University lies something much, much more sinister

The statistics released begin in the 2012-13 Academic year. In that year, 284 students accessed counselling services. By the 2014-15 Academic year, 430 students had enrolled in the service. The most recent statistics pertain to the 2016-17 Academic year, when there were 457 students using the service. 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 for various issues across the United Kingdom is concerning. Yet these are difficult times to be at University, with significant pressure on students. High tuition fees and living costs, coupled with the uncertainty and competitiveness of the graduate job market aren’t conducive for positive mental health. It has been questioned by many as to how well-equipped Universities actually are in terms of their provisions for treating mental health.


However, Heriot-Watt University have taken considerable action in recent times to try and arrest the worrying rise in numbers. They have introduced daily drop-in counselling sessions, meaning some individuals can receive same-day support. In any case, the University has a target of a 10 working-day wait for appointments. Moreover, Heriot-Watt University has launched a Student Wellbeing Centre which amalgamates counselling and support services – allowing a multitude of resources to tackle mental health conditions.


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Increasing numbers of students have been accessing counselling services. Photo by Nikolai Ulltang on


Students could access counselling services for help dealing with a range of issues. Mental health conditions anxiety and depression are normally the most common reason for requesting help. Low mood, family issues, stress and bereavement are often among other reasons. 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.




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.





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