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3 out of 4 of Students Report Mental Health Problems In The Past Year

The findings come after an extensive NUS survey.

The findings from an NUS study have brought scrutiny from Cambridge's welfare services from CUSU's Disabled Students' Campaign, a Student Minds representative, and CUSU's Welfare Officer.

Over three quarters of students say they have experienced mental health problems in the past year, according to a survey conducted by the National Union of Students (NUS).

With 90% of respondents admitting to feelings of stress, it surpassed the 77% who reported anxiety and the 69% who reported feelings of depression.
A further cause for concern is that over a third (36%) of those surveyed said that they had experienced thoughts of self-harm, while 62% recorded having experienced feelings of “hopelessness” or “worthlessness”.
Yet out of all of these, more than half of students (54%) who were experiencing mental health issues did not seek support, according to the survey.

Speaking to, Cambridge University Students Union's Welfare Officer, Poppy Ellis Logan, said that the "university and colleges purposely put students under extreme pressure" to get the best results, and encourage a "competitive environment" where students are "held to extremely high standards or expectations that aren't realistic." 

Logan further explained that that these factors can exacerbate the stress and pressure students into feeling that you aren't living up to other people's expectations, which are all triggers of "mental health difficulties." This is because they tend to promote "low self-esteem, which feeds into anxiety/depression" and "finding it hard to cope leads to feelings of low self-worth." 

The CUSU Welfare Officer was critical of the fact that there is nothing to "ensure that teaching is inclusive of those with AS or ADHD" or "that feedback is constructive for those with anxiety." She claimed that any instances where there was such inclusive teaching or constructive feedback, it was "out of the ordinary, rather than being the basic minimum-level of provision that students have a right to." 

"Add to this the institutionalised issues of sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia and other stigmas that many students experience on a regular basis and again we see how the Cambridge University environment not only fails to accommodate for students with mental health issues, it is itself an initial trigger."

CUSU’s Disabled Students’ Campaign have also responded to the findings of the NUS survey, denouncing the support available to students as “poorly-signposted”, “enormously underfunded”, and “often inadequate” in a post on their Facebook page.

Katie Wetherall, a representative of the mental health charity Student Minds, was "shocked, but not surprised about the figures", before continuing that "if 80 per cent or more of students are unhappy or depressed at least some of the time, then the system isn't working."

Furthermore, 33% of respondents stated that they “would not know” how to access mental health support at their college or university, and only 38% reported feeling “positive” or “very positive” about the mental health support on offer.

Ms. Wetherall added that "there is still a huge stigma associated with suffering from depression and other mental health issues."

She said that the University Counselling Service needs to be "more open, accessible and available", that all colleges should have dedicated counsellors, instead of students having to "face a lottery" with whether they get a good tutor or not.

  • Date published: 23rd December 2015