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A recent study by the National Union of Students (NUS) has revealed the majority of students experience mental health issues (78 percent), while 54 percent of students do not seek help, begging the question: Why don’t students seek help from universities and more specifically, the University of Southampton – and how can this be reversed?
Some students at Southampton think that that the University does not advertise their services well enough, and students simply don’t know where to go. They rely on what is advertised to them rather than actively putting themselves out there. This is especially important since mental health problems can often prevent the individual from doing just that.
The University recently disclosed that 174 current students have declared a significant mental health issue or concern. 174 out of 24,000 current students is astounding, and if 78% of students experience mental health issues, clearly an incredible number of students are not getting help from the University.
Some students are more aware of what the Students’ Union does rather than the University itself.
Having gathered feedback from a survey conducted by the Wessex Scene collecting data on general student opinion, a Southampton student commented:
“I Spoke to Nightline, who gave me suggestions about how I can help my mental health. I also sought help from the NHS steps to well-being”
Nightline, a student volunteer-run helpline, seems more successful.
Another student commented that “You really have to dig out the information” regarding what the university can do for those who suffer from mental health issues.
It seems that some students think that the student-run helpline does better than the University itself. Not only this, but students are seeking help from other places. Could advertising be the main issue?
“I think the university deals well with mental health issues, but you have to be quite forward and sort a lot of it out yourself.”
On the other hand, some of the young people surveyed were pleased with the help they received, noting they were given extended deadlines for essays, allowed to return home early from a year abroad, offered counselling, and were also given access to mentoring. One satisfied student noted how they had initially expected less from their university but was surprised at how well their institution handled the situation. Another stated that they were provided with a personal gym trainer and were given help with special considerations. There is, of course, help out there. Evidently, universities need to reverse expectations.
However, some do not feel as though the University is not effective enough. Whether this is the truth or just a matter of poor advertising can be debated; the University told the Wessex Scene that 13 suicides have been recorded in the last ten years – a serious disappointment. If advertising is the issue, then this could be a societal problem rather than a problem for universities alone, despite the comparison with student-run services such as Nightline.
One student noted: “I wish it would be more open and less ‘hush-hush’ so it doesn’t seem so unusual.” So, does the societal problem go deeper? Another respondent disclosed how they didn’t feel the University would take them seriously unless they had a doctor’s’ form – an issue that affects both students and employees alike.
Ultimately, the statistics from both the NUS and independent survey say something about society as well as universities, and the problems regarding help for mental health span across all parts. When analysed, over half of the students have not sought help for the same reasons other members of society do not seek help. People expect little, and are not aware of the options out there.
The only way to reverse this would be to stop the topic from being such a taboo. Why? Because mental health issues are far more common than people think.