The number of students seeking mental health support while studying at university has increased by more than 50% in five years, analysis suggests. The BBC asked universities across the UK for the numbers of students seeking some form of support.
The National Union of Students said young people were under increasing pressure to perform.
Christian, from the University of Birmingham, said: “Universities are just accepted by students to be a hotbed for stress and anxiety. The drinking culture at university allowed me to hide away, numbing my pain and normalising being exhausted in the day and hyperactive at night.
“I’d been ill throughout the course and talked to the extenuating circumstances officer about how many lectures I’d missed but my anxiety was too high to admit that I had a problem.
“By admitting to someone at the university, I’m telling them that I feel like I’m not good enough to finish a course I signed up for. This means there’s a lot of shame attached to asking for help.”
Eddie, from the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, said: “Everyone says that you are totally able to reinvent yourself at university and that you will easily make friends and you’ll have the time of your life in fresher’s week and love the next three years. It was hard when that didn’t happen so I drank by myself a lot, never left my room and became worse and worse.”
Amy, from the University of Leeds, said:”Perhaps I should have taken a year out, but felt very much pressured by my sixth form college to go to uni, so I went through clearing.
“The system where you can’t be registered at a home and university doctor made access to medications I was on very complicated in my first year. After returning from Christmas break, I had a breakdown.
“The university counsellor I saw for my depression and social anxiety was amazing and the first counsellor or therapist I’d seen who has truly positively impacted my mental health. The connection to the university gave her a better understanding of my situation, in a much less clinical environment.”
Of 83 universities that provided five years of full data from 2012 to 2017, the number of students seeking help rose from 50,900 to 78,100. The number of students going to university dropped slightly over the same period.
At the same time, budgets towards mental health services increased by more than 40%.