• Not by degrees: Improving student mental health in the UK’s universities
    Sep 05, 2017 | Institute for Public Policy Research

    Not by degrees: Improving student mental health in the UK’s universities, a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research provides insight into the state of postsecondary student mental health in the UK. Levels of mental illness, mental distress and low wellbeing among students in higher education in the UK are increasing, and are high relative to other sections of the population. Around three-quarters of adults with a mental illness first experience symptoms before the age of 25. As the student population comes to more closely reflect the UK’s wider socioeconomic and demographic make-up, a growing proportion of students are affected by mental illness. Over the past 10 years there has been a fivefold increase in the proportion of students who disclose a mental health condition to their university. Students can be at added risk of experiencing poorer mental health and wellbeing, due to factors relating to academic, financial and social pressures. This is evident in the high levels of mental distress reported by students, and the extent to which universities have experienced dramatic increases in the number of students seeking counselling support.

    The higher education sector and government both have an interest in helping to improve the mental health and wellbeing of students. Universities should make the issue a strategic priority and adopt a ‘whole-university’ approach based on prevention and promotion, early intervention and low-level support, responding to risk and crisis management, and referral into care and treatment. There is currently too much variation in the extent to which universities are equipped to meet this challenge. This sector-led approach should be complemented by strengthened NHS provision and new government initiatives to ensure that no student is held back by their mental health.

    Download the Report (PDF)