Durham freshers declaring mental illness up 94%

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The number of Durham freshers declaring mental illnesses has risen by 94% over the past four years. 

Figures obtained by The Times show a national 74% rise between 2014-15 and 2017-18 in students stating they had conditions such as depression or anxiety prior to starting their course. 

7,345 students declared they were coming to university with mental health illnesses in 2014- 15, up to 12,773 in 2017-18. 

Declaring a mental illness prior to arriving at university can help put structures in place before the student moves to Durham. This has the potential to minimise the difficulty of obtaining support in a new city. 

Pro-Vice Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience), Owen Adams, said: “The wellbeing and mental health of our students and staff are hugely important to us and we invest significantly in their pastoral care. In 2018/19, we will finalise an over arching institution-wide strategy for supporting student mental health – which will systematically organise the extensive support systems already in place at different levels across the University.

“Prospective students who have completed a UCAS application form with reference to mental illness are contacted by our Mental Health Advisors in the period before their arrival in Durham. We send information on internal and external support services, and the Mental Health advisors offer guidance on the transfer of care to local NHS services, if required.” 

The University recently approved two additional Mental Health Advisor posts. These are trained nurses with NHS experience, who can offer consultations and support to students with mental health issues. The new post-holders will be in place before the start of the 2019/20 academic year.

The comes after a report by Palatinate in 2017 which found that the University had reduced its number of full-time equivalent counsellors from 6.2 to 5.4, leaving it short of the recommended counsellor-student ratio. 

According to the British Association for Counselling and Therapy (BACP), a university should have a minimum provision of one counsellor per 3,000 students. 

Featured Image Rob Bernard via Flickr

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