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One in 10 students think about self-harming, study finds


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Almost one in ten students think about self-harming often or every day, according to a recent study.

In the largest ever mental health study conducted on university students, the research found that around 44.7% use alcohol or recreational drugs to cope with their problems.

Image credit: Discott via Wikimedia 

In addition, one in ten of the respondents said they use drugs often or all the time.

The Insight Network, a private healthcare provider, surveyed 37,654 students from 140 universities across the UK. 

The report found that most students (81.6%) experienced symptoms of serious personal, emotional or mental health problems in secondary school whilst 18.2% said their symptoms first commenced during university.

The most common diagnoses were depression and anxiety disorders. 

Dr Stepehn Pereira, consultant psychiatrist and Director of the Insight Network, says the team conducted the survey to help universities and the NHS "better understand student mental health."

He says: "Starting university is a major period of transition in the lives of young people, and although many look forward to it as a positive and exciting time in their life, for some, the reality as a student does not always mirror expectations.

"Mental health conditions are just as common in young people as they are in the general population, and some conditions, which are particularly common among this age range, can have devastating effects if left unacknowledged and untreated.

"It is a cause for concern that one in ten students think about harming themselves often or all the time. It is important to note that 'thoughts' are not the same as actual intent to self-harm and many who have thoughts of doing so never will, however, the findings are concerning.

"In addition, it is worrying that a high number of students using alcohol or drugs as a way of coping with distress, and a significant minority of these students seems to be doing this routinely.

"Substance use is a significant factor for the most serious mental health outcomes, including depressive and manic episodes, hospital admission, selfharm, suicide, overdose and accidental death, so it really is an issue we need to address."

Brian Dow, managing director of Mental Health UK, urges students to register with their local GP and book an appointment immediately.

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