Young People and Counselling

It is easy to assume that it is only rigours and demands of adult life that can lead to mental health issues that would benefit from CBT counselling and other forms of support. However, recent studies into the mental health of young adults at university and their access to counselling support, together with significant Government funding to expand an online children’s charity to assist young people suffering from mental health concerns, demonstrate that mental health issues are also prevalent amongst young people.

A survey was recently conducted among 144 universities, to look into how many students were accessing university provided mental health services. The results show the average university saw an increase of 33% in the number of students seeking mental health support services provided by the university since 2008. This figure was in excess of 50% for some universities and one university reported a huge increase of 127%. Whilst it has been suggested that increased awareness among students is in part responsible for the increase in the number of students seeking support in dealing with mental health issues, a further recent study conducted by the NUS, looking at the mental health of students, suggests that in fact the significant increase could also be in part due to the volume of students who are suffering from mental health issues.

An enormous 92% of respondents to the NUS study reported feelings of mental health distress (feeling down, stressed, demotivated), whilst 1 in 5 students considered themselves to have mental health issues. Of particular concern is that 13% of students surveyed had experienced suicidal thoughts.

Whilst the first report on its own demonstrates huge increases in the number of students seeking campus based support in the last 4 years, the NUS report of the students themselves states that only 1 in 10 students with mental health issues sought campus based assistance. Only 50% were aware of the availability of private counselling/therapy services.

The Government is aware of the issue of young people suffering from mental health concerns and within the last week announced a £1/2 million funding grant to a children’s charity which supports children dealing with concerns such as depression and anxiety, in order to expand the services to also assist 18-25 year olds. The head of the charity stated that 850,000 young people in the UK are struggling with diagnosable mental health issues.

CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) with a psychologist could be of great benefit to young people who are at such a crucial life stage, as they experience the transition to adulthood, coupled with the added complications when at university of leaving home for the first time and dealing with the stress of study demands and peer pressures.

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