The state of student mental health is nothing short of a crisis. In 2019, the House of Commons reported that 21.5% of university students have a current mental health diagnosis and 33.9% have experienced “a serious psychological issue for which they felt they needed professional help”.
NHS waiting lists are getting longer and longer, and with tuition fees being around £9250 a year, many feel that it’s fair to expect the Uni to help us take care of ourselves. Despite this, there are countless students who still feel unsupported.
For many of us students, the statistics surrounding mental health aren’t surprising and the reasons for these issues are clear: we feel overworked; we’re broke; many of us are far away from home; we feel an immense amount of pressure to be having the time of our lives in spite of this. While I’d always ad mental health issues, the isolation I felt in my first year made things a whole lot worse. Along with the usual feelings of anxiety and hopelessness, I now also felt the sense that I was doing university “wrong”, that I’d waited and worked my entire life for these three years, and I was screwing them up.
While having mental health issues in any capacity is undoubtedly very shit, I can’t discuss this issue without an awareness that my experience is one among thousands and, if I’m being fair, I’ve been privileged to have the experience I’ve had with student wellbeing service. I’ve been able to get counselling – good counselling, at that – every year that I’ve been here, and while six sessions never feel like enough to help me in the long term, I’m aware that I’m one of the lucky few. Depression and anxiety are a huge topic of conversation, but there are a huge number of mental health issues out there that, due to lack of staff and funding, the student wellbeing service aren’t equipped to deal with.
Of course, there’s staff at the University who desperately want to help; the NUSU’s Permission to Pause campaign is an example of this. But petting cute animals and doing mindfulness can only do so much when academic pressure is high and support, for certain students, is incredibly minimal. The University needs to take a look at how it’s spending its money and consider whether the Vice Chancellor needs to be paid over £300,000 a year when students are suffering and the staff trying to help them are fighting a losing battle.
Featured Image: Newcastle University
Last modified: 10th February 2020