I recently read a report on the BBC news stating the following:
“British universities say they risk “failing a generation” unless students get better mental health care.
A Universities UK report found some students risked “slipping through the gaps” due to a lack of co-ordination between the NHS and universities.
The most up-to-date statistics show 146 students killed themselves in 2016. At Bristol, three students have died suddenly in the past month alone.
An NHS official said local services should collaborate with universities.
Henry Curtis-Williams, a photography student, took his own life in 2016, aged 21.
“He had lost weight, he had dark shadows under his eyes, he was clearly in crisis,” said his mother Pippa Travis-Williams.
“He changed from being that super-confident person to [becoming] just a shell of a person.”
The number of deaths in 2016 was higher than the 134 students who killed themselves in 2015 – which in turn was the highest total since 2006.
Universities UK said that over the past five years, 94% of universities had seen a “sharp increase” in the number of people trying to access support services.
Some institutions noticed a three-fold increase.”
This is not ok. Especially since there is a growing amount of services and resources available to support young adults experiencing mental health issues during university. University should be a holistic environment which allows a teenager to evolve into an adult whilst being supported with the challenges they face, they shouldn’t just have to “suck it up” or “get over it”. No longer can mental health be brushed under the carpet and dismissed as it is affecting more and more students. More importantly just because you have a mental health issue doesn’t mean it can’t be healed or managed in an effective way.
This being said, we have pastoral tutors, welfare officers within the university and mental health weeks yet cases of suicide still occur – how can we help prevent this?
Well I have a few suggestions from personal experience/personal research:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It’s most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems.
- Counselling services within the university: they are present and can be walk-in or book in appointments. On-going support or one-off!
- Student and local night-lines: who can be called at anytime, if a student was distressed and needed advice or just someone to listen to them.
- A hobby/volunteering: Something outside of work/exams that you can escape to and enjoy. That isn’t examined. This act can be very liberating.
- See a GP: if you feel medication is needed and if a clinical diagnosis is required.
- Attendance of ‘de-stress activities’ within the university: I know that within my university we have de-stress exercise timetables and mindfulness sessions. Some universities have a fun day where they have bouncy castles, animals, free messages and food to help alleviate the exam stress.
- Community: encourage students not to do exams in isolation. Fair enough if personal study time is preferred but stay connected with people in between. It’s important to take regular breaks to recharge. Students are away from their families and in some cases their home country, community during times of stress can be very therapeutic.
- Prayer: optional for others but what helps me personally is my Christian faith, praying to God… who I believe is bigger than me and my problems. Casting my cares and anxieties to Him gives me peace and comfort.