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RCPsych concerns over student anxiety

Increased anxiety amongst students Photo: The Independent

A recent report written by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) has shown that students currently attending university are at a higher risk of suffering from anxiety and depression than twenty years ago.
They argue that this is partly a result of the current economic climate which has led to less financial support for students and has severely reduced job prospects for graduates.
The report says that there are more students from less privileged backgrounds and fractured family homes now attending universities, who are hit even harder by the financial pressures.
The report also states that the growth and expansion of universities has resulted in a less personal experience for individuals.
As well as financial and academic worries, first year students or ‘freshers’, have the added concern of the pressure to have a ‘fun’ time in freshers week.
With such an emphasis on partying, and the pressure to conform to the binge-drinking student stereotype, for some students, the start of university is not the blast that they expected it to be.
Two female first year Psychology students said that they felt ‘obliged to go out, especially in freshers week’, and that they have both felt the ‘pressure to fit in’.
The National Union of Students (NUS) conducted a study into university support services.
They found that 75 percent of managers at counselling centres and helplines had witnessed a major increase in demand for their services.
Although some universities are working to increase their support services facing risingnumbers of students leaving their course, 40 percent of counselling centres said they could not cope with current rising demands.
In addition to this, there is a risk that university psychological support services could suffer in recent proposed budget cuts and the NUS has urged ministers not to implement these plans.
It is estimated that four percent of students utilise their university’s counselling services while at university.
According to the RCPsych report, less than a third of students felt like they could seek support at their university or even knew where to start looking for help.
Some universities have been investing more money in counselling and support services in the fears that students will drop out.
The report states that university is a crucial time in people’s lives and that counselling should be available if needed.

It suggests that university staff should receive more training about student emotional welfare.

It also advocates a scheme to incentivise GPs to set up services for students.

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