Are British students too stigmatised to speak out on mental health?

After University Mental Health and Wellbeing Day recently, we review the Priory’s shocking survey statistics

The survey, which collated information from 18 universities, found that one in four students with mental health issues were not comfortable talking about their problems to friends.  Though the awareness day yesterday received plenty of media attention and support through social media from people all round the world, the societal stigma which plagues those who suffer with mental health problems will not be alleviated overnight.

The survey suggests that almost half of those who opened up about their illness have experienced a negative response – half of the first years who completed the survey said that they had been treated differently by peers after revealing their struggle with mental health issues.  Worryingly enough, 16% of the country’s students genuinely believed that they had lost friends and acquaintances as a result of admitting to their mental health problems.  This contradicts entirely from the experience of friends, as 75% of the respondents who noted that they had a friend with mental health problems did, in fact believe that they were being supportive.

Though universities nationwide are doing more every year to support students suffering from mental health issues, 86.5% of those surveyed who had been diagnosed with a mental health problem claimed that they didn’t think that schools and universities provided them with adequate support or doing enough to help them.  Dr David Kingsley, Consultant Adolescent Psychiatrist at Priory’s Cheadle Royal Hospital noted that “mental health problems are surprisingly common in students, including depression, self-harm, anxiety disorders and eating disorders”, and that university was a potential trigger – “as this is often the first time that they have been away from home, they can feel isolated and unable to access support for their difficulties”.  Even if the support is there, the social stigma of admitting to having mental health difficulties can be enough to dissuade students from seeking the support they need. Dr Kingsley went on to suggest that “it is important […] that universities and colleges help other students to understand mental health issues better, so that students can access the support they need from their peers and their difficulties aren’t compounded by an experience of misunderstanding or prejudice from their friends”.

For the full report visit:

http://www.priorygroup.com/latest-from-the-priory-group/item/news/2014/02/14/student-mental-health-research

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