Calls for 24/7 drop-in service to help Dundonians tackling mental health issues

Calls for 24/7 drop-in service to help Dundonians tackling mental health issues

 

 

link to Evening Telegraph article here 

Please follow and like us:

Huge rise in students in Scotland seeking mental health support

Connor

The number of university students in Scotland seeking support for mental health issues has increased by two-thirds over five years, analysis shows.

The BBC asked universities across Scotland for the numbers of students seeking some form of support.

It found more than 11,700 students asked for help in 2016-17 compared with about 7,000 in 2012-13.

The 68% increased among students in Scotland was higher than the 53% total for the UK over the same period.

University counsellors and wellbeing staff told BBC Scotland that they deal with cases ranging from anxiety, depression, gender-based violence and body dysmorphia.

The figures – obtained by the BBC’s Shared Data Unit through freedom of information requests – showed that only 12 of Scotland’s 19 universities recorded how many students sought help for their health help over the five-year period.

Presentational grey line

The data shows:

graphic
  • The number of students seeking help for their mental health at the University of Edinburgh doubled over five years
  • The University of Glasgow experienced a 75% rise in students seeking help for their mental health between 2012-13 and 2016-17
  • The University of Stirling had a 74% rise in students seeking help for their mental health between 2012-13 and 2016-17
  • Glasgow School of Art experienced a 72% increase in students seeking help for their mental health over the same period
Presentational grey line

‘Not being able to return the favour had a toll on me’

Connor

Connor Smith was in his third year studying computer games development at the University of the West of Scotland when his close friend, who was also a student, took his own life.

“I was really shook up and didn’t know what to do with myself,” he said.

“I had struggled with my mental health before but the person who took his life was able to help me out of that, so not being able to return the favour had a toll on me.”

The university’s counselling team quickly offered to help Connor.

“I couldn’t speak to my family because I felt like I was burdening them,” he said.

“I couldn’t speak to my close friends either because they were going through the same thing.”

Connor said that he was struggling not only with the death of his friend but also his future prospects.

He said: “One evening I sat down and thought ‘what am I doing?’.

“I forced myself to work at university but I wasn’t in a good mind space. I really wasn’t enjoying what I was doing.”

Connor said he did not know what would have come of his life had it not been for the university’s support.

He said: “I wouldn’t have done so well.

“I might’ve quit university and if I did that, I don’t know what I would be doing.

“I had nothing lined up as a fall-back.”

Connor returned to counselling for a second time during his final year of studying. He was struggling with stress, overeating and had money worries.

He said: “[The support] wasn’t immediately available like before but, when I did get it, being able to speak to someone was so helpful.

“University was the best stretch of my life but easily the lowest I have been as well.”

Presentational grey line

‘I don’t like the term snowflake’

student mental health

Ronnie Millar, director of counselling at the University of Edinburgh, said there is a “pernicious perfectionism” among students, which can affect their mental health.

He said: “When I was at university, there were no fees and we had student grants.

“Nowadays, more students have to work in part-time jobs and study, which puts a lot of pressure on them to succeed.”

Mr Millar said it was not helpful to label young people seeking help with terms such as snowflake, which imply they are less resilient than previous generations and too emotionally vulnerable.

He said: “I don’t like the term snowflake. I think it is a pejorative.

“In terms of resilience, some students struggle more than previous generations – but that’s not pointing the finger of blame.”

Mr Millar said that while there’s been a doubling in the male students coming forward for help for their mental health, the “proportion” has stayed the same over the five-year period.

“We say to students that [counselling] is not activity just for women, it’s for everyone.”

Social media bubble

student mental health

Dr Phil Quinn, head of counselling and psychological services at the University of Glasgow, said that while there was greater awareness of the help available, a “saturated” NHS had resulted in fewer community services for students to access mental health support.

He said: “We have had a record year in terms of referrals to the service, of students starting their university careers with already diagnosed mental health conditions.”

The University of Glasgow employed 20 staff in 2016-17 – ranging from cognitive behavioural therapists and a consultant psychiatrist to a counselling manager – to assist with the 2,330 students that came forward that year.

Quinn believes that staff numbers are sufficient to meet demand, and that the increase in students coming forward for help is partly down to a “24-hour social media bubble” where they are exposed to “criticism, bullying, and abuse”.

‘Crisis students’

Jackie Main, who is the director of student life at Glasgow Caledonian University, said it was not just the volume of students seeking support that was increasing but the complexity of the issues they presented with.

“We see a lot more crisis students than before,” she said.

“That could mean a student is actively self-harming, threatening suicide or requires being sectioned or hospitalised.

“Crisis students experience severe emotional distress, including panic attacks.”

At Glasgow Caledonian University, the number of students seeking support in 2016-17 hit 661, up 69% since 2012-13.

Ms Main added: “Anxiety and depression are the two big issues we’ve see increases in.

“We are not a crisis support service. We don’t have the resource and it is not our job. But we don’t let students fall through the net.”

Budgets

Eight of Scotland’s universities provided the BBC with their total budgets for mental health services – which in some cases included services that don’t just support student mental health, such as a disability service – in the five years to 2016-7.

It revealed an increase of 31% from £2.4m to £3.1m.

The University of Strathclyde (which did not provide complete figures for the number of students seeking help between 2012-13 and 2016-17) was the only institution to report a decrease in its overall budget over the five year period, down by 18%.

A spokeswoman for the university put the drop down to “re-structuring” and emphasised that significant investment – about £400,000 – had been made since 2017, including the creation of three full-time and 12 part-time posts on the mental health and wellbeing teams.

She said: “We have also introduced an online mental health support programme, which works hand-in-hand with our dedicated advisers and therapists, to ensure support is available for all.”

Presentational grey line

‘Finding out you’ve failed all your classes is horrible’

Hannah

Hannah Moles was in her third year of studying maths at the University of Strathclyde when she approached student services for help.

Not only had she failed her first set of exams but she was also caring for her grandmother who had dementia.

She said: “My brother and I were going over three times a week to make my gran dinner, get the shopping and keep her company.

“She was really lonely.”

Hannah said that when she wasn’t caring for her gran, working in a part-time job which paid for her flat, or sleeping, she’d be in the library trying to study.

“I was really tired and had things on my mind constantly,” she said.

“So I went along to support services to see if I could calm myself down. I wanted to improve my mental state before my next set of exams.”

Hannah said that eight weeks after approaching student services, she received her first counselling appointment.

However, by this point Hannah had failed her second round of exams – meaning she wouldn’t be allowed to return for the fourth year of her degree.

“Finding out you’ve failed all your classes is horrible especially when you have put in the work but it is still not enough,” she said.

Hannah said that she was grateful to her university for providing mental health support but more counsellors would help meet the increasing demand.

“I am lucky that I got the support I needed,” she said.

“But there are lots of students who seem to need help with their mental health. I just hope that universities can keep up with the increasing demand.”

Presentational grey line

’80 new counsellors’

The Scottish government’s most recent Programme for Government promised to provide more than 80 additional counsellors in further and higher education institutions over the next four years, with an investment of about £20m.

However, there is no indication yet how the funding will be split or which universities will receive more counsellors.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said every student “should have access to emotional and mental well-being support”.

“We will work closely with the university and college sectors, NUS Scotland and other partners, on the implementation of the additional counsellors, and to ensure an integrated and wrap-around approach to student wellbeing in higher and further education.”

Details of organisations offering information and support with mental health issues are available at bbc.co.uk/actionline, or you can call for free, at any time to hear recorded information on 0800 888 809.

 

 

Link to BBC article here 

Please follow and like us:

Couple donate 50th anniversary money to charity for young Dundee dad who took his own life

Anne Dolderer and Anton Dode) Dolderer 
A Dundee couple who recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary have donated all the money given to them in lieu of gifts to a charity set up in memory of a young city dad who tragically took his own life.

 

Link to Evening Telegraph article here  

Please follow and like us:

Niece of Dundee suicide victim says delays to prevention strategy will cost more lives

                           David Ramsay

 

Link to Dundee Courier article here 

Please follow and like us:

A year on, Dundee family remember their beloved Lee

Phil Welsh (Lee’s dad) with a photo of Lee

 

Link to Evening Telegraph article here 

Please follow and like us:

Young people’s mental health is a ‘worsening crisis’. Action is needed

In both the UK and US, services for young people are being cut, leaving those from marginalised groups at greatest risk of suicide.‘Whatever the language deployed to describe the scale of mental health challenges facing Britain’s young people, it has to be addressed immediately.`

One recent report called the problem a “silent catastrophe” while a survey of teachers labelled it an “epidemic”. But, whatever the language deployed to describe the scale of mental health challenges facing Britain’s young people, it has to be addressed immediately.

NHS figures published last month revealed that almost 400,000 children and young people aged 18 and under are in contact with the health service for mental health problems. According to the figures, the number of “active referrals” by GPs in April was a third higher than the same period two years prior. Those seeking help for conditions such as depression and anxiety showed a sharp increase.

Demand for help is up, but services are diminishing. Last month also saw new figures showing a 30% fall since 2009 in the number of hospital beds for people with acute mental health conditions. This follows the revelation in November 2017 that two-thirds of children referred for specialist mental healthcare are not receiving treatment. Last week, the charity Barnardo’s warned that ministers were “sleepwalking” into a deeper crisis in children’s mental health, after the government’s response to a parliamentary select committee report and green paper failed to promise urgent action to plug “gaping holes” in services.

Of course, an increase in referrals over time may be, in part, an indication of more young people self-reporting and GPs being more receptive to it. Nevertheless, the warning flares on children and young people’s mental health have come thick and fast lately. In June, the NHS England boss, Simon Stevens, said a major expansion of serviceswas needed to deal with growing demand. A few days earlier, a report from the Association of Child Psychotherapists warned of “a serious and worsening crisis” following a survey of staff in child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs). Underfunding on top of service reorganisation was an ongoing threat to specialist services, it concluded. “There was never a golden age of funding” for young people’s mental health, as Andy Bell of the Centre for Mental Health explains, but help must include a concerted focus on groups that face additional inequalities, such as LGBTQ youth who are much more likely to experience common mental health problems. Research shows that almost twice as many young LGBTQ people in the UK (44%) have considered suicidecompared with heterosexual non-trans young people (26%).

In the US, concerns about young people’s mental health have come to the fore lately, too, including for common problems like anxiety, depression and suicide. Suicide is the second biggest cause of death for 10- to 24-year-olds in the US and 90% of those who die have a mental health condition. And research shows the proportion of young people treated at children’s hospitals for suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts more than doubled between 2008 and 2015.

The 2018 State of Mental Health in America report tells a story similar to Britain’s. “Rates of youth with severe depression increased from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015,” it reports. And again, access to treatment is a problem as budget cuts put pressure on insurance coverage and services. “Even with severe depression, 76% of youth are left with no or insufficient treatment.”

And, as in Britain, for youngsters from marginalised groups the picture is especially challenging. Amit Paley, chief executive of the Trevor Project, which offers suicide prevention and crisis intervention support for young LGBTQ people in the US, points out that the rate of gay, lesbian and bisexual young people who have seriously contemplated suicide is around three times that of heterosexual young people. The evidence tells us that early identification and intervention can mitigate damage to young people’s mental wellbeing. We know, for example, that if children’s centres and young people’s services and schools are better equipped to promote wellbeing they can make a difference.

When it comes to young people in extreme distress or at risk of suicide, effective crisis services and access to support are utterly essential. But so too is preventing youngsters from reaching a crisis in the first place.

 In the UK the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

 

Link to The Guardian article here 

Please follow and like us: