A Student Crisis: Are Universities Doing Enough For Mental Health?
A Student Crisis: Are Universities Doing Enough For Mental Health?

A Student Crisis: Are Universities Doing Enough For Mental Health?

Universities aren’t doing enough to support mental health according to students.

Going to university should be a time to expand your horizons, learn new things, meet like-minded people and enjoy some freedom away from the family. But the mental health crisis is on the rise and it’s preventing students from thriving.

Free pizza, buckets of condoms, and a whole cupboard full of branded notebooks and pens — what about helping students with their mental health? It’s not enough to offer pamphlets or guide them to online resources. More needs to be done.

A mental health survey of 4,000 students, conducted by The Tab, has indicated just how severe the issue is. Students across the country and from popular universities are faced with difficulties and are not satisfied with the help they’re receiving from their uni.

This comes at a time where more people, companies and establishments are being vocal about mental health and showing their support. But how much of it is ‘well-washing’? The mental health equivalent to green-washing, where companies superficially market and claim that they’re helping the cause but don’t dig much deeper into the issues.

What are students saying?

The Tab’s survey has unveiled some shocking statistics.

69% of students suffer with a mental illness

The majority of students are living with a mental illness. 61% of students suffer with anxiety and for 80% of students, this started before they came to university.

85% of students struggling have missed a lecture

The impact of poor mental health has harmed learning for many students. 85% of those struggling with a mental illness have missed a lecture or seminar due to their issues. 51% of students have had to seek extenuating circumstances.

12% of students think their university handles mental health well

The majority of students are not happy with how their university deals with mental health. Only 12% have said they think their university handles the problem well.

Head of Services at CALM (suicide prevention charity), Wendy Robinson, says:

“A duty of care already exists for students under the age of 18 – and we believe much more needs to be done to ensure students’ mental health is prioritised in higher education. Universities have a responsibility to make sure their institutions are safe and positive environments, and we back calls for more policy to ensure this happens.”

Students at university are going through a fundamental part of their growth and development, so they should have access to the proper help and support they need to ensure they can flourish. 

It can be a daunting time for many students. Some are living independently for the first time, miles away from home, others might be feeling overwhelmed by their studies, but regardless of what their struggles are, they should all have the same support made available to them by their university.

How well students think their uni handles mental health

The survey asked the students to rate how well they think their university handles mental health. The options were: very well, well, average, badly, very badly, or couldn’t say.

Below are the percentages of students at popular unis who rated their university’s attempts at handling mental health as ‘very badly’.

  1. York — 6.2%
  2. Nottingham — 7.9%
  3. Exeter — 8.3%
  4. Newcastle — 9.2%
  5. Leeds — 9.9%
  6. Cardiff — 10.6%
  7. Lancaster — 10.8%
  8. Glasgow — 11%
  9. Oxford Brookes — 11.1%
  10. Durham – 11.5%
  11. Warwick — 11.6%
  12. Manchester — 13.3%
  13. Edinburgh — 17.4%
  14. Bristol — 18.9%

Students from Bristol University were ‘not surprised’ by the statistics. One student from the uni said she was met with ‘copy and paste paragraphs explaining the student health service’ when reaching out to tutors for mental health support.

It’s also been found that almost three-quarters of uni students have tried to self-medicate by using drugs or alcohol when struggling with mental health.

74% of students across the UK have turned to drugs or alcohol to cope with their mental health.

It’s clear that universities up and down the country need to do more to help their students. It should be their priority to keep students safe and to support them in their studies as well as mental health. 

If you or anyone you know has been dealing with mental health issues or loneliness, check your university wellness team and see what resources are available to you or contact your GP to see what mental health services are available in your area.

Mental health websites and helplines

  • Student Space from Student Minds – phone, text messaging and email support for students suffering from mental health problems or concerns about uni
  • Samaritans – call 116 123 for free 24/7
  • Nightline – most unis will run a confidential Nightline service
  • Mind – call 0300 123 3393 for support
  • HOPELINE UK — call 0800 068 41 41
  • Shout – text shout to 85258 to talk to someone via text message 24/7
  • CALM — call 0800 58 58 58