Source: Mental Health Foundation
The inspiration for this post came from the BBC article of the same name, which can be found by clicking here. The article itself suggests that there is a much greater need for mental health services to be available to university students within the UK – with 94% of universities reporting a sharp increase in the number of people trying to access support services.
The aforementioned figures are incredibly disturbing, though should be taken with a pinch of salt. The argument being portrayed within the article is that students are simply becoming more stressed and as a result are seeking support services to a higher extent than in previous years, an argument that certainly may have merit. It should also be considered however, that mental health is continuing to become less of a stigmatised area within health and combined with the increasing efforts of universities, students are becoming more confident in their ability to seek help from these services.
In an ideal world, all students would have a dedicated amount of time in which they could be supported and all academics would have the ability to understand when a student may be struggling or suffering. We do not live in an ideal world sadly, and people do still slip through the cracks. Whilst it is difficult to pinpoint a particular reason as to why this is happening, the majority of reasons seem to indicate that poor communication between universities and wider organisations could be a large issue for those students that may need a higher level of help.
I know from personal experience within the University of Hull, both as a volunteer and service user, that the level of help offered within this particular university is phenomenal and this is a result of several factors: dedication, communication, and never assuming that they’ve perfected the way in which students can be helped. To believe that there is some form of blanket method that will suddenly change the way in which we are able to assist students and the wider community is ridiculous, and this attitude will be the one that enables individuals to further slip through the cracks.
One issue I have been made aware of in my final year at university is the difficulty around the subject of reporting; many students feel unsure of when to take action regarding the mental health of their peers, and are often unaware of the services that are available to both them and the individual who is suffering. Having a strong presence, and treating mental heath as important as the education people are at university to gain is certainly a step that will allow students to be in better hands.
There are a couple of things that are simple however. One of the best things you can do for someone you think is struggling is be polite. “How are you?”. This is possibly one of the powerful phrases you can utilise when you have concerns for someone. If nothing else, you’ll not get a response or will be given a ‘fine thanks’. It’s a small step and isn’t necessarily about gaining information, it’s also about showing that individual you’ve taken time out of your day to think about them. Community is key.
As seen by the banner at the head of this article, you’ll notice that Mental Health Awareness Week is coming up. This is a great time to gain some information about the services that are available to you and your peers. You could be facing issues without even realising it, that’s when information is paramount.
If you are struggling, or you think somebody you know could use a little help then please seek it. I will always encourage people to contact me should they not feel as though they’re able to talk to anybody.