Stressed students 'seeking help' amid fears for academic record

Tuesday 08th October 2019 19:29 EDT

More students are seeking independent counselling away from university over fears their academic record will be affected, a support charity has said.

Off The Record (OTR) in Bath said it saw "hundreds of students, year on year" from the city's two universities.

Director Phil Waters said some people were worried about a stigma if they sought help from their university. Bath University said that would never be the case and added any students with urgent needs would be seen immediately.

Mr Waters added: "[Students] feel there's perhaps some sort of agenda from the university support staff."

But Dr Cassie Wilson, vice-president for student experience at Bath University, said that would never be the case. Former GP at Bristol University, Dominique Thompson - now a national advisor to many universities - agreed.

Ms Sims said she believed some students struggled because they felt "not worthy" of help.

Academic stress has become the number one source of anxiety for university students, according to Dr Thompson. It is something Ms Sims has experienced first-hand.

When Ms Sims needed help, she said Bath University's drop-in wellbeing hub helped her, as well as private counselling.

A recent survey by mental health campaigner and ex-health minister Sir Norman Lamb, who obtained information from 110 universities under the Freedom of Information Act, showed many universities were still "in the dark" about their students' health and wellbeing needs and struggled to predict the extent of likely demand for mental health support services.

Bristol University - where 12 students have taken their own lives in the past three years - said it was spending more than £1m a year on well-being services, including counselling.

But the majority of universities have a budget of less than half that.

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