Uni counselling service records rise in the number of students seeking help

Anxiety was the most common reason

Sheffield is one of many top Universities experiencing a significant jump in the number of students seeking out help with their mental health. 

According to new data, Russell Group universities saw 43,000 students accessing help from counsellors during the academic year 2014-15, compared to 34,000 students three years earlier.

The figures show a 28 per cent jump with Sheffield Uni experiencing a 53.98 per cent rise overall.

Coinciding with the increase of tuition fees to £9,000,  campaigners have claimed that there is a link between the record number of students using counselling services and the financial pressure of university.

Stephen Buckley, from 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.”

There has been a 28% rise in students accessing the service

Clinical psychologist Dr Thomas Richardson, added: “Research has shown that financial difficulties such as being unable to pay the bills has an impact on mental health in students.

“There is also some evidence of a vicious cycle whereby financial difficulties exacerbate mental health problems, and these mental health difficulties can then make managing a budget harder still.”

The figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act also found that anxiety was the most common reason for students to access the advice of counsellors.

Despite universities not being able to reveal the full breakdown of problems experienced, more than 6,000 students were reported to be dealing with anxiety related issues.

Other top universities reporting similar rises over the three year period  included Edinburgh with 75 per cent and Cardiff at 72 per cent.  Southampton was the only institution out of the 24 asked to record a decline.

Representatives from the Russell Group were keen to stress that student welfare remains a top priority.

Drop-in surgeries, Nightline services and professional counselling were pointed out as just some of the many ways to seek help quickly.

The new figures have too prompted The National Union of Students to warn universities to treat the findings with serious concern.