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Mental health problems prompt more students to drop out of university

The number of students dropping out of university due to mental health problems has increased in recent years, according to official figures.

A record of 1,180 students who experienced mental health problems left university early in 2014-15, according to Higher Education Statistics Agency. This is a 210% increase from 380 in 2009-10, according to the Guardian.

Another study, conducted by NUS in 2015, showed that 78% of students experienced mental health issues during the previous year. Among them, 33% had suicidal thoughts.


Charities, counsellors and health experts urged higher education institutions to offer the right support, as the situation has been described as a “mental health crisis”.

Norman Lamb, a former health minister, said there was “a crisis on campus with respect to students’ mental health. Counselling provision should be a priority so that all students can access effective support for problems like anxiety, but we know that these services are too often underfunded.”

The pressure some students face is huge. While some of them have the time of their lives at university, others will struggle. The factors vary and include living independently for the first time, making new friends, managing a higher workload, meeting responsibilities at work, having family or care commitments. In the case of international students, some of the most frequent issues are the culture shock, language barriers and homesickness, according to the Independent.

As a response to this complex issue, researchers at Salford University launched ProtectEd, a not-for-profit national accreditation scheme that assesses how well universities take care of their students’ well-being and safety, according to Cubo. The program offers training programmes and university case studies to support its measures for addressing student mental health.

The program offers training programmes and university case studies to support its measures for addressing student mental health.

Dr Faraz Mughal, a clinical fellow for mental health for the Royal College of GPs, said that it is important for students to feel supported, whatever their reason for using university services are.

“Young people are our next generation of adults,” he said, “so whether they choose to attend further education or not, it’s important that we take their mental health seriously. Across society, we desperately need more mental health services for children and young people in the community, and for GPs to have better access to them.”


Daisy Wilder