Universities in the north-east have seen an almost 30% rise in students accessing mental health services over the past three years.
New figures released today in the Granite City reveal both Robert Gordon University (RGU) and Aberdeen University have seen an increase in students looking into counselling services.
For both universities, there were 1,201 students looking for help and accessing services for mental health in 2016-17.
The number has increased by 27% from 2014-15 when 942 from both institutions were receiving help.
Nationally there has also been an increase in students accessing services and it is thought this has come because of higher levels of stress from issues like money.
Eva Crossan Jory, the National Union of Students vice-president, has said students have less money than in previous years and are having to balance work, study and other responsibilities.
She added many students are “chronically sleep deprived and over worked” with increased reports of “loneliness, isolation, depression and anxiety”.
Aberdeen University said the health and wellbeing of students was its “number one priority”.
The institution has experienced a 39% increase in students accessing a number of services available, and it has also increased its budget for dealing with mental health issues by 20%.
In 2012-13 it had 589 students looking for help, which rose to 821 in 2016-17.
Its budget six years ago was £264,670, with the university investing £318,518 for 2017-18.
A spokesman said: “The health and wellbeing of our students and staff is our number one priority, and funding for our dedicated counselling services has increased by more than 20% between 2012-13 and 2017-18.
“We are constantly assessing the provision of mental health and other important support services, and since the launch of our mental health and wellbeing strategy in 2016, we have adopted a range of measures that aim to enhance our range of services.
“These include the appointment of the university’s first full-time mental health adviser, a role we plan to bolster through the recruitment of mental health mentors (who will be interviewed in the next few weeks) to provide additional support to students.
“In addition, we have appointed staff wellbeing co-ordinators to provide a listening ear and a signposting service for staff wishing to discuss workplace concerns.”
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At RGU, figures for 2016-17 show 380 students had accessed counselling compared to 340 in 2014-15.
The university had counsellors and student wellbeing advisors available as well as providing workshops and drop-in sessions.
Filippo Antoniazzi, director of student life at RGU, said: “There has been a growing number of students accessing our support services and, in recognition of this, the university has undertaken several steps to further improve our provision in this area.
“Our NUS Student Mental Health Agreement has a shared aim between the university and students to make RGU a place where conversations about mental wellbeing are encouraged and supported, with clear signposting to support services.
“These services have been boosted with an increase in number of counsellors, while the ResLife team have undergone Scottish Mental Health First Aid training and we have committed to train up to 150 further staff over the current academic cycle.
“The university and RGU:Union will continue to work together on a number of initiatives to support our students’ wellbeing, including RGU:Nightline and a Peer Mentoring programme, to ensure every student has access to support wherever and whenever they need it.”
Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said: “In recent years we have seen more cases of people reporting poor mental health.
“This is, in part, because the stigma surrounding mental health issues is diminishing and people now feel more comfortable to disclose their struggles.
“Getting individuals to admit to suffering from poor mental health is, however, just one half of the battle; the other is ensuring we have the services in place to support them.”