More Edinburgh students are seeking counselling than ever before

They’ve had to reduce the number of sessions they offer to cope with demand


According to a new study, there has been a 75% increase in the number of Edinburgh students using counselling services over the past three years, leading to the university reducing the number of free sessions it offers.

1,629 students sought counselling in four years ago, which rose to 2,852 last year.

The study does not take into account the current academic year which has seen a further 47% rise in the number of students using counselling services, which has made it difficult for the university to offer services to all.

The news comes after a Tab survey found that 48% of Edinburgh students who responded suffer from mental health issuess

In an email to people who’ve applied for counselling services earlier this year, the director of the Student Counselling Service, Ronnie Miller, said:

“Our aim is to see all students as quickly as possible. This year we have been experiencing an exceptional increase in the number of students using our service (up 47%).

“The impact of this is that our waiting times are longer than we had hoped. We received additional resources from the University and recruited extra counselling staff in January.

“As we are approaching the Spring Vacation in April, followed by Revision week and the Exam period we want to see as many students as we can before the end of semester. In order for us to do this, we are now offering students short term counselling of up to four sessions, rather than six. This is the average number of sessions students have used over the previous two years.”

This is part of a wider trend across Russell Group unis which has seen the number of students accessing counselling rise from 34,000 to 43,000 in three years.

The study, which looked at all Russell Group universities, found that Edinburgh experienced the sharpest rise in usage for its counselling services.

The dramatic increase has been blamed on rising tuition fees and uncertain career prospects after university.

Stephen Buckley, from the mental health charity Mind, said: “Today’s students face an unprecedented financial burden with student loan and tuition fee debt higher than ever before.

“On the other side of this is the financial stress and uncertainty around employment on graduation.

“Both of these are major contributors to mental health problems like anxiety and depression.”

The National Union of Students (NUS) also commented on the findings. Its Vice-President for student welfare, Shelly Asquith, said: “The value of education has moved away from societal value to ‘value for money’ and the emphasis on students competing against each other is causing isolation, stress and anxiety.

“NUS is urging the sector to take these statistics seriously, and consider an urgent review of the level of funding given to mental health services, particularly counselling.”