Question Sarah Science

University Students and Suffering from Depression and Anxiety.

Are university students more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.

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Answer Internal Staff

Over recent years there have been a number of warning signs suggesting that Universities are not providing the mental and emotional support students require. It is estimated that between 5-10% of students, depending on university, require some form of counselling during their time at university. This would suggest that approximately 120,000 students are seeking help for some form of mental illness, with depression and anxiety among the most common.

A 2015 report from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) highlighted that there is a massive increase in demand for counselling within universities, with one anonymised institution showing an annual increase of 50%. This report also highlighted that while counsellors used to deal with issues such as homesickness they are increasingly seeing students suffering with depression and anxiety. It is clear from this report that the rising cost of studying and fear of failure are two very major causes.

While student life was often stereotyped as being predominately lazy days, a number of students are now beginning to experience stress factors that reach far beyond the transitional problems cause by leaving home for the first time. Other factors that also appear to be playing a part in the increase of stress related mental illnesses are wider social changes. For instance the increase in percentages of marriages ending in divorce in the UK has reached 50% meaning approximately half of university students will go off to university after growing up in an environment that could have been considerable more stressful than from a home where divorce was not evident.

The ever-present nature of social media is making it increasingly difficult for young people to get away from their stresses as they are always connected to others via their phones and other technological devices. This also leads to a culture of comparison with everyone else online, which can often lead to a sense of inadequacy or failure. Finally it is worth noting that one of the biggest issues for young people with mental illness is the stigma attached to mental health issues as many who do not suffer do not understand or appreciate the damage they can cause because they cannot ‘see’ the damage depression or anxiety can cause.

References

Higher Education Funding Council for England (2015) Understanding provision for students with mental health problems and intensive support needs. Available: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2014/Content/Pubs/Independentresearch/2015/Understanding,provision,for,students,with,mental,health,problems/HEFCE2015_mh.pdf Accessed: 19/08/2016