This article is about mental health and includes some references to suicide and self-harm.
Across the UK’s universities, there’s another epidemic at large. Thousands of students suffer – often in silence. And yet, universities can’t seem to curb it.
One in four UK students now reports having a mental health problem, according to a 2016 poll by YouGov. An NUS survey from 2015 suggested it was even more: an astounding 78% of students reported experiencing mental health problems in the last year.
Six in ten (63%) students say that they feel levels of stress that interfere with their day to day lives. Additionally, 77% of all students report that they have a fear of failure, with one in five of these saying that this fear is very prevalent in their day to day life.
And this is a deadly problem. The suicide rate for students appears to by rising year-on-year, with the latest data from the ONS reporting 4.7 deaths by suicide per 100,000 students.
While tabloid headlines lambast snowflake students who can’t cope with the demands of university, the reality is that the sharp rise in stress, mental health disorders and, tragically, student suicide seem to be symptoms of a larger problem.
But how do we fix this? In today’s Global Perspectives we speak to Norman Lamb – the former Minister for Care and mental health campaigner; Loo Fletcher, who dropped out of university after a suicide attempt and now works to improve student mental health at universities; and Nick Bennett, the founder of the mental fitness app, Fika.
Former Liberal Democratic politician Norman Lamb was the Minister for Care and Support during the coalition government, working within the Department of Health.
Since then, he has become a staunch campaigner for improved services and support for young people with poor mental health.
“Before I left the Department of Health in 2015,” he said, “I commissioned a prevalence survey to assess levels of mental ill-health among young people. It hadn’t been carried out for over 10 years. It showed an increase in prevalence – not dramatic, but a clear increase.”