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Are Universities Putting Enough Emphasis On Mental Health?

Are Universities Putting Enough Emphasis On Mental Health?

Mental health is an issue that more universities need to focus on. With so many students stressed and anxious over their studies, their attention is needed.

Mental health can often fall onto the backburner during University. University is a relatively stressful period of life for most people. It brings with it a lot of changes and new experiences, and while these can be overwhelmingly positive, sometimes things can get a little too much for students. We all know how important mental health is, but are universities doing enough to help?

Are Universities Putting Enough Emphasis On Mental Health?

I recently had a conversation with a few of my friends that involved their university advice centres.

The conversation was light, and compared the help from two different unis when it came to advice about changing course and struggling with their workload, but the differences were striking – and scary.

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One of my friends mentioned that not only was their centre hard to find, appointments were delayed, they needed multiple letters from different people in order to receive counselling, and staff didn’t seem interested in helping people unless they were truly at the end of their tether. But why should somebody only receive help when they are at their lowest?

This begs the question: are universities putting enough emphasis on mental health?

Despite most UK institutions having an advice centre and providing mental health services, many places encourage students to seek their own help. Student Minds, the UK’s leading student mental health charity, released a report which indicated that up to 70% of students have experienced problems with their mental health – and not only that, but that the number has grown over the last few years. They highlight that not just the advice centre staff, but anyone working with students should have training in how to cope with these issues.

Are Universities Putting Enough Emphasis On Mental Health?

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Throughout the study, lecturers are quoted as having dealt with different situations.

One person claimed: “I didn’t know what to do, other than call the police,” while others said: “I struggle a little bit to be honest, with what personal tutors are expected to do,” and, “there were clearly emotional [issues] and I didn’t quite know. It was very difficult, knowing who do I talk to.”

If unclear before, Student Minds highlighted that mental health issues are not only wide-spread but are not being dealt with as effectively as they should be. This is not only unfair to students who are suffering but to lecturers and teaching staff who are put in situations they don’t know how to handle.

Are Universities Putting Enough Emphasis On Mental Health?

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So, what should universities be doing?

Clearly, mental health is not being emphasised as a very real, and important, problem. While advice centres and student mentors are important, and a good place to start, more effort should be put into addressing the challenges that both students and the people they come to for help face.

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Finding the balance between professional help and a full-time focus on mental health is difficult.

But with the rise in mental health challenges and new pressure on students, it is important for universities to consider it something worth addressing. It might not be feasible for all teaching staff to have full mental health training, but for staff to know who to go to when a student comes to them distressed, or know where the student can go to get help, is a start.

Students should be made aware, without needing to ask, who they can speak to if they need to talk. And lecturers, as people close to the students, should know where to send them if they need to.

Are Universities Putting Enough Emphasis On Mental Health?

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If you’re struggling, or simply need somebody to listen, Student Minds offer a number of online resources and can help you locate support near you. The NHS also offer advice and counselling. Helplines Partnership have a directory where you can find a number to call if you need advice or to talk, and Nightline have multiple helplines based in different Universities open overnight for any questions you have.

What do you think Universities can do to help mental health struggles? Let us know in the comments!
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