By Leah Johnston, Lifestyle Editor
Mental health services are said to be at breaking point, with universities in the UK and beyond struggling to cope amid rising demand from students. According to The Higher Education Policy Institute, some universities would need to have triple the current funds to adequately support their students. The report states that one in ten students has a ‘diagnosable mental illness’, anchoring the need for further funding.
Within Queens itself, we have a well-established Wellbeing service, offering counselling, Mind Your Mood sessions, and self help techniques available online. But are we doing enough?
University can be an incredibly stressful experience, so looking after your mental health is essential. According to The Royal College of Psychiatrists, 75% of all mental health difficulties develop by the mid-20s – yes that’s us, the students. This is somewhat unsurprising, with the transition from college or sixth form to university being so vast, and the workload at least doubling, not to mention the move from a settled home life with parents, to an independent life in student digs. The period of adjustment for students can be mentally challenging, with the pressures of adulthood quickly creeping up. The report from The Higher Education Policy Institute outlines the need for more support for students who have problems such as depression, anxiety and loneliness, with alarm bells ringing as the number of student suicides is on the rise.
Ruth Caleb, from the ‘higher education working group’ on mental health, stated that counselling may help students before a “concern becomes a crisis”. Other issues include ‘continuity of care’, exemplified with the possibility of students being allowed to simultaneously be registered with a GP both at home, and at their university doctors. This is currently not the case in most practices, which may put students off going to the doctors, if they will have to re-register as a temporary patient each time they visit. Allowing this simultaneity may eliminate students suffering in silence, and allow them to access mental health advice and treatment, whether they are at university, or at the parental home.
In many cases, funding is inadequate for the demand on mental health services and counselling within universities, and it seems to be a problem that will only increase with time. Cambridge University has recently held a student petition for more Mental Health funding, with backing from Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, telling Cambridge to ‘Invest more in student mental health support’. Is it time for Queens to do the same?
For information on Queens Wellbeing, resilience and mental health services, visit http://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/sgc/wellbeing/HealthandWellbeing/MentalHealth/
Image: Mind Your Mood N.I