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The National Union for Students (NUS) Scotland has responded to new mental health research by urging universities to devise an action plan for improving student wellbeing.

NUS Scotland has expressed profound concern for student mental health in the UK, following a new research published earlier this month by the Mental Health Foundation. According to the report, which documents the largest-ever study of student mental health at Scottish universities, nearly three-quarters (74%) of university students surveyed experience low wellbeing. Additionally, over a third of university students (36%) reported moderately severe or severe symptoms of depression.

Conducted during the second national Covid-19 lockdown in spring 2021, the research further highlights the financial pressures affecting student wellbeing as a result of the pandemic. In fact, 22% of students expressed concern about running out of food and 24% admitted to eating less due to a lack of money. 

In response to the findings, the NUS Scotland President, Matt Crilly, said: “I am deeply disturbed that so many students are unable to pay for food due to a lack of money, digital poverty is clearly on the rise and more students than ever before are experiencing depression. Behind each one of these statistics is a real student, and their stories break my heart. The Scottish Government cannot ignore students right now; we need a student mental health action plan urgently- backed up by long-term funding to solve a problem of this scale.”

In addition to shedding light on the mental health issues faced by university students, the Mental Health Foundation is calling for sector-wide change of support services provided at higher education institutions. For instance, the charity is urging the Scottish Government to increase its funding of wellbeing support beyond counselling, as well as encouraging universities to “incorporate student wellbeing as a measure of success as part of their enhancement model”.

If you are experiencing mental distress, please reach out to the Counselling & Psychological Support Services (CAPS) here. Additionally, click here for self-help resources compiled by CAPS and here for Peer Wellbeing Support, a confidential, student-led listening service.


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