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Survey reveals truth about mental illness at Cambridge

18th June 2013

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A new mental health survey has shown that Cambridge University students suffer from a variety of mental illnesses.

Student publication The Tab conducted the Mental Health Survey last month and had 1,749 responses, roughly 15% of the Cambridge student body.

Of the students who responded, depression was the most common illness, however there were also high levels of anxiety as well as a significant amount of students afflicted by insomnia, eating disorders and panic attacks.

The statistics revealed that English students struggled with depression the most with a worrying 40% of those who responded having already been diagnosed, and a further 20% believing they were depressed. 

Philosophy students had the largest figure for insomnia with 10% of students diagnosed and 5% undiagnosed.

English and Philosophy students were also the most anxious, while classics and history scholars had the most cases of eating disorders.

Although the survey has been criticised for self-selection bias in that the people who are most likely to answer are also most likely to suffer from mental illnesses, it does highlight the growing issue of universities providing the right care and resources for students who are struggling with mental illnesses.

This is shown in the testomonials where male students often said they felt uncomfortable talking to anyone about their problems, fearing they wouldn’t be taken seriously, or that the issues weren’t serious enough to merit attention.

Responses regarding welfare also bare out inadequaices in student care with tutors, counsellors, and college nurses coming in for criticism. Students suffering from clinical depression have been told that they must be fine because they’ve been seen “smiling and laughing with their friends” while anecdotal evidence suggests certain college nurses showed some lack of understanding regarding serious issues such as schizophrenia and suicide.

In response to the survey’s findings, the university said: “Mental health and depression are significant issues within any student body, as the recent NUS national survey has shown, and the University of Cambridge and its colleges take them very seriously.

“Collegiate Cambridge provides a level of support both to mitigate stress and tackle depression that is unparalleled in most other universities. 

“We would be very disappointed and concerned if this flawed polemic misled students needing and seeking help into not asking for it. The Collegiate University is always keen to improve the support it provides for students where it reasonably can."



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