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We need to talk about mental health at university

More and more universities are appearing in the news with issues regarding mental health.

The most recent being the University of East Anglia (UEA), which revealed that ‘mental health improvements [were] needed’ after four students had taken their lives on campus since May.

UEA’s student union have now started drafting its first mental health manifesto after the fourth death occurred earlier in March.

But more needs to be done.

Why is mental health such an issue at university?

For many new students, this is the first time that they have lived away from home. As well as this, many students choose universities quite far away from their home towns.

This can prove quite detrimental to certain students. While many adapt to living independently like a duck to water, some can really struggle with the notion of not having their support network around them anymore.

This can cause new students to become isolated and lonely which can result in them experiencing mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.

How does it affect education?

If students withdraw into themselves because of mental health, it can be harmful to their education.

If a student has not made many friends, they may not have anybody checking up on them to see if they have been attending their lessons. When you are in a bad frame of mind, it can be hard to find the motivation to get up for lectures.

How can it be improved?

While there are many universities that provide mental health support, it is often the case that students feel embarrassed or even ashamed to seek help.

To help combat this, services that offer anonymity could be useful for those who do not wish to be named when asking for help.

This is why the Charlie Watkins Foundation set up Chat with Charlie, an anonymous 1:1 platform in which students can speak to trained volunteers if they are struggling.

It is currently only available at the University of Essex but it is the foundation’s dream to roll this out to universities nationwide.

If you want to help, you can donate to the foundation’s JustGiving page.

There is so much more that needs to be done for students at university who might be struggling with their mental health. But it is the foundation’s hope that Chat with Charlie paves the way for others to make a difference.