Almost five times as many freshers disclose mental health condition

New figures show the number of first-year students heading to university and disclosing a mental illness has risen almost five times in a decade.

The figures note women undergraduates are more likely to register a mental illness, with 2.5 per cent doing so, compared to 1.4 per cent of men.

However researchers at the Institute For Public Policy Research (IPPR) have suggested these figures are unlikely to be a true reflection of mental health disclosures. This is due to the way universities collect such data and down to students fearing the reaction of disclosing an illness, they’re less likely to come forward. Often students felt concerned they would be treated differently by their peers and academic staff.

The research report also identified how, in some cases, students were not aware of the support available to them. Surprisingly around a quarter of universities were found to not work close enough with NHS secondary mental health services. Moving forward the report recommends “the university sector collectively adopts student mental health and wellbeing as a priority issue.”

Craig Thorley, IPPR senior researcher, said: “The number of students who report a mental health condition to their university is growing rapidly. […] Universities must be ready to support these students, including, where appropriate, through referral into specialist care. But the extent of support is currently too varied, and many university services are overwhelmed by the level of demand.”

How do you think universities should better prepare themselves to help students disclose a mental illness? Let us know your thoughts:

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