Sunderland students turning to support services rises by 378%

St Peter's Campus is part of the University of Sunderland.
St Peter's Campus is part of the University of Sunderland.
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The number of students accessing support services at the University of Sunderland has increased by 378% in just four years.

Statistics published today show the massive increase in Wearside students who have sought support for a range of issues related to their wellbeing.

Huge rise in students seeking mental health advice.

Huge rise in students seeking mental health advice.

In the academic year 2012-13, the data shows 185 students asked the University of Sunderland for support, compared to 884 students in the year 2016-17.

The university said the wellbeing of all students is a top priority for them.

The figures, obtained by a BBC study, show that nationally over the same period there has been a 53% increase in the numbers of students seeking help for issues.

The total budget spent on university support services across the country has gone up from £25.5million in 2012-13 to £36.6million in 2016/17 which is an increase of 43%.

We are proud of the wrap around support we provide for our university community

Oliver Pritchard

In Sunderland the university spent £166,657 on these services in 2013-14 and £285,623 in 2016-17.

Oliver Pritchard, Deputy Director Student Journey at University of Sunderland, said the university is proud of the support it gives to students.

He said: “We are proud of the wrap around support we provide for our university community.

“Students here access our Wellbeing team for a wide range of reasons, from day-to-day guidance to longer-term support.

“We consider the wellbeing of all our students as a priority.

“Our Wellbeing team works as part of our wider Student Support Service and with specialist NHS partners.

“We deliver highly individual support using a considered combination of personal and pro-active online support tools.”

For many young people, going to university is a time of huge change, taking those first steps into the world of adulthood and independence and brings with it a lot of pressures and challenges.

Since 2016, 11 Bristol University students have taken their own lives, which highlights the importance of mental health support for students.

Eva Crossan Jory, the national vice president of the National Union of Students, said: “There is evidence that much of the recent investment into mental health services has been directed towards student wellbeing projects.

“Although worthwhile, these can be by no means a substitute for much-needed professional counselling services. On many campuses, we hear that these services are chronically overstretched and underfunded.

“Although a greater number of students are attempting to access mental health services, there are still structural issues that present barriers to others.”

She said figures from Universities UK (UUK) found that 40% of students who had attempted to take their own lives had not come forward before.

She added: “This suggests a much larger, hidden problem of acute stress that is reaching crisis point.”