Number of university students seeking counselling rises 33%

Demand for counselling services on campuses in the UK has risen by a third since 2008 according to a new investigation.

The number of university students seeking counselling has risen over a third in the last four years, according to an investigation by Help Me Investigate. And at five universities numbers have more than doubled.

The University of Glasgow had the largest increase in number of students in counselling. In four years numbers increased from 513 students to 1180. The second largest increase took place in Lancaster University, with a 127% rise.

A spokesperson for the University of Glasgow said: "We are working hard to reduce waiting lists, but would emphasise that we aim to provide all students with an assessment appointment within two weeks and that we also offer a daily drop-in service."

"Whilst it is true that there has been a rise in the number of students seeking assistance, this may – at least in part – be due to increased awareness of the services and support that is now available."

Three other universities have also seen the numbers of students seeking counselling more than double were University of York, The University of West Scotland, and Bath Spa University.

The University of York said the increase in counselling number is due to a new program called 'Open Door Team'.

Senior Press Officer David Garner said: "The University of York have actively developed the ODT model because it allows quick access to appropriate interventions, quick throughput based on student need – rather than student want -- and no long waiting times. The ODT model is distinctive from the traditional counselling service and disability service (with mental health worker) approach."

114 universities replied to requests from Help Me Investigate about how many students were accessing mental health services. Some responded with general counselling services numbers – which include counselling for accommodation issues or academic issues.

HMIE also asked about funding, waiting lists and staff numbers. The data revealed waiting times range from 2 days to 6 weeks with the average wait time being 11 days.

Glasgow and Edinburgh are the universities with the longest waiting lists, at 239 and 160 respectively. They did not provide figures for their average waiting times.

In total, 2 in every 100 students sought counselling services in 2012. An NUS report on mental illness this month revealed that 20% of students currently in university consider themselves to have a mental health problem.

The research said that 20% of students considered themselves to have a mental health problem, and 13% had suicidal thoughts.

The figures come in time for World Mental Health Day on October 10th to raise awareness about mental illnesses.

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Nicole Froio

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