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Support not stigma

By Hollie Alexa Moxham

Friday 5 October 2018 Student Journalists

World Mental Health Day takes place on Wednesday 10 October. Did you know that around 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health issue each year?

A recent survey by Mind estimates that approximately 300,000 people will lose their job due to mental health problems.  

21% of people have called in sick to avoid workplace stress and 56% of employers said that they wish they could do more to improve staff wellbeing, but they don’t have the right training.

Poor mental health is a strong contributor to staff absence across organisations within the UK. Unfortunately, it still seems to be a taboo subject in most workplace environments. Employers are not trained to recognise or understand its effects.

Alongside this, employees are reprimanded for taking too many sick days or not having a “good enough” reason. Patients are waiting longer and longer for treatment, the NHS waiting list for talking therapy can be up to two years and it's no different for students.

Mental health problems are far more common in students than they were 10 years ago. The support that universities and hospitals currently offer is spreading thin. It's clear that there is rising demand from students that need support.

Universities UK has recently published guidance to improve the link between the NHS and universities. It is not uncommon for students to not prioritise healthcare when they move to university due to the excitement of starting university. 

Before committing to a university find out what support is available to you. Look at reviews from current students and attend open days. You can also look online to see what support they provide, for example, some universities offer regular counselling and have additional services that may help. Remember that if a university has invested enough money in their services, they’ll want you to know about it.

It is time that our universities and workplaces prioritise our mental health above all else. We need to make support more readily available and we need employers and teachers to be trained to recognise the signs of mental health issues and provide flexibility and understanding for those who need it.

It’s time to provide support, not stigma.