Beaver

National levels of mental illness amongst universities urge a “call to action”

Students relaxing in the ground floor seating area in the atrium of the LSE New Academic Building (NAB)

This week, results from a nationwide survey on student mental health uncovered the “alarmingly high” levels of distress and mental illness on our campuses. The survey of 37,500 students found that record numbers of students are reported to have increased levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

According to the survey by Insight Network, a private healthcare provider, half of the students reported thoughts of self-harm, 45% said they used alcohol or drugs to cope with their problems, and almost 90% reported struggling with some form of anxiety. The report also stated how these symptoms generally increase after first year – primarily because freshers were “more likely to be conscious of and use the universities’ mental health services”, and frequent freshers events help to mitigate feelings of isolation which may resurface in the later years of a degree. Perhaps the most distressing statistic is that 75.6% of students surveyed said they kept their symptoms from their friends.

The Beaver’s investigation into loneliness at LSE found that of those surveyed, 87.3% felt some degree of loneliness.

Chloe, a first-year Law student who has accessed the LSE wellbeing services, noted how the services are likely underfunded, arguing instead that the LSE “needs to be investing in comprehensive mental healthcare, because it will also benefit them. As a university that puts you in a high-stress situation, they owe you a duty of care”.

Faye Brookes, the LSESU Community and Welfare Officer, told The Beaver that the results are “very worrying but unfortunately not surprising… I believe it is vital that LSE take a whole school approach to tackling these issues”. Her suggestions included a student consultation, which “will enable students to inform LSE’s approach to mental health and wellbeing and voice the changes they would like to see at LSE”.

Brookes also highlighted the importance of wellbeing during exam season, whereby the SU plans to run a series of wellbeing events for students. “Though these events are by no means a way to fix the huge problems students at LSE face, we hope that these events can offer a small amount of respite during a very stressful time”.

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