Mental health problems among students are as common as among the rest of the population, but recent research suggests that rates of psychological distress and illness in universities are on the rise.
According to the Newcastle University website, the SU “is committed to supporting students to live their best lives, alongside the pressures that studying and a busy schedule can sometimes bring.” The university offers a wide range of support to cater for students varying needs: there is the dedicated Health and Wellbeing staff, the iNCLude app (designed by specialists to help create positive habits for the whole university experience), as well as both online CBT and in person counselling services - all available free to students.
1 in 3 students reported that they experience loneliness
It is encouraging that the university has so much to offer students who are struggling with their mental health. But I still feel there is a gap between the support on offer and students feeling able to reach out and ask for help. In a survey of 37,000 students across 140 universities throughout Great Britain (The Guardian), 1 in 3 students reported they experience loneliness often or all the time - an increase of almost 20% from 2017 figures. The problem lies in students feeling able to voice their struggles, and this is where we all need to do more raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.
The work done by the Mind The Gap society is fundamental in educating the university community about mental health among students. A friend of mine who has used the support services offered by the university told me: “It’s really important to talk about (mental health), remove the stigma and normalise problems as not something to be ashamed of, but accept as just a natural part of life.’
As much as the university does to offer support to its students experiencing mental health, we can all do more to join the conversation and reach out to our peers who we may be struggling.