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University drop-out rates linked to mental health are on the rise

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Data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) shows that a record number of 1,180 students left courses early in the 2014-15 academic year due to poor mental health - a 210% increase on 380 students in 2009-10.

Data from The Guardian also shows a rise in the amount of students seeking the use of counselling services, with almost 87,000 requesting access in the 2015-16 academic year.

This is an increase of 28%, compared with almost 67,000 in 2013-14.

According to some of the 90 universities within the UK, the demand this year (2016-17) for these services was “already outstripping that of previous years” before the end of the academic year itself.

Despite the alarming increase in numbers, this could also signal something positive: an indication that more people are becoming aware of their own mental health, and are not regarding the discussion of it as a taboo.

While not all universities were able to provide the reasons students requested the use of counselling service - only 26 did so - it seemed that the biggest reason was to seek help with anxiety, an increase of 46% over three years.

In this same timeframe, the number of people requesting help for dealing with depression rose by 39%.

Cardiff University in particular has seen a rise of 96% in the requesting of counselling services between 2013 and 2016.

According to The Guardian, some universities are reducing the amount of counsellors and mental health care professionals who they employ, or are simply not recruiting enough to keep up with this current increase.

Some universities have seen waiting times for appointments increase as well, with the average wait time at Staffordshire University changing from 25 days from first assessment in 2013-14 to 43 days in 2015-16.

Norman Lamb, former health minister and Liberal Democrat MP, has said regarding this mental health crisis at universities that “counselling provision should be a priority so that all students can access effective support for problems like anxiety, but we know that these services are too often underfunded.”




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