Urgent action needed in universities!

A recent report by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) think tank shows that one in three students are suffering with stress, depression and loneliness (higher than the general population) whilst the number of student suicides has risen.


Universities need to do more to protect student’s mental health, but how do they do this?


Universities have counselling services—which are effective but costly to provide. As a result these services are usually overwhelmed by demand. Local healthcare provision is geared towards serious crises only.Mild and even moderate cases are low priority. There needs to be more prevention and resilience-building in place if there is any hope to make a dent in the problem.


Going to university is a massive step for any young adult to take. Typically, you move away from your family and friends. Your whole support network is gone. You take on a large student loan and end up in a new part of the country/world. This is all without having to cope with studying, performing in exams, making new friends and generally looking after yourself. No wonder students are struggling, having to cope with all these sudden changes in their lives. Students need support to be able to tackle all of this successfully, Universities should be looking after them and ensuring they are coping.


It is vital that universities get across the message that it is okay to talk, it is normal to ask for help and that everyone needs to work on their mental fitness. How we train that mental fitness is what will enable us to be in the best shape to deal with what life may throw at us.


Universities will not be able to provide enough counsellors to ever hope to cope with demand. With more emphasis on prevention and education students can learn techniques to manage difficulties themselves and be guided to seek help if these techniques are not enough. Many students will fail to seek help when they need, compounding the problem and only presenting when the situation is dire. With a system of prevention and early detection in place a struggling student can be prompted to seek help at the time when it can make a real difference. This would alleviate the pressure on counsellors and make the service counsellors provide, of better quality and more beneficial to the students.


This is very much the reason we at Thrive have created an app that is completely confidential to you and uses evidence-based techniques and tools to build your resilience, detect problems early and even do treatment during the early stages of depression and anxiety. We are able to customise the app to the particular university and integrate seamlessly with their existing student counselling services. Students who are struggling and have screened positive for a mental health condition are prompted to simply click a button that will send the counsellor an email saying that student needs a chat. The app gives students something they can use in their own time, their own space and at a time when they do feel a bit down and want some support. As the counsellors are stretched, they can’t always see the students when they want. The app nonetheless allows to record progress made at the student’s own pace or as a tool to be used in therapy.


We all go through tough patches but at university it is a rollercoaster of emotions. If you feel like you are struggling, the important thing for you to do is reach out for help. It’s a huge step to take but you will feel the pressure lift off the shoulders when you do.


Simply visit www.feelstressfree.com on your tablet, phone or computer and it will redirect you to the relevant download page. Once you have signed up, enter the coupon code STRESSFREESTUDENTS2016 to get your first month completely free. If you think it helps talk to your university about it so that we can provide it to all the students and we can integrate with what your university already provides.

Bronwyn SouthrenComment