Recent Findings Display and Compare Mental Health Support in UK Universities

Editor | Cassandra Lau

As we draw near the 2019/20 academic year, recent studies prompted by Babylon Health show that 1 in 18 students sought mental health support in London. On 29 January, Babylon Health sent a freedom of information request (FOI) to 133 universities around London and the United Kingdom to find out each institutions’ demand for and provision of mental health support. Health Babylon notes that the figures do not represent a formal diagnosis.

Amongst the 133 universities, 124 responded to one or more of the questions put forth, 29 of which were based in London. The findings made detail:

  • How many students contacted mental health services for help in London and the UK
  • How much this changed between he beginning of the academic years 2017/18 and 2018/19
  • How many students declared depression or anxiety as their presenting issue when seeking support in London and the UK

Support from counselling or mental health services

  • 1 in 18 students (or 5.6% of the student population) sought some form of support from their university’s counselling or mental health services in London during the 2017/2018 academic year. This means that a total of 13,493 students approached their university for help in the 21 London universities that provided this figure.
  • 1 in 20 students (or 5.1% of the student population) sought some form of support from their university’s counselling or mental health services in the UK during the same time. This is a total of 106, 899 students who have approached their university for help amongst the 96 universities that provided the figure across the UK.

Below is the data received from London universities.

University (in alphabetical order) Number of support requests/referrals Percentage of student population
Birkbeck, University of London 735 6.2%
Brunel University 1,013 7.3%
City University London 699 3.5%
Goldsmiths, University of London 603 6.0%
Guildhall School of Music and Drama 265 24.7%
Imperial College London 105 0.6%
King’s College London 2,348 7.3%
London Business School 180 9.4%
London Metropolitan University 345 3.4%
London School of Hygiene 221 20.4%
London South Bank University 292 1.7%
Middlesex University 753 3.8%
Royal Academy of Music 604 71.5%
Royal College of Art 126 5.8%
Royal Holloway London 979 9.3%
St George’s University of London 485 9.7%
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance 294 27.2%
University of East London 1,445 11.0%
University of Greenwich 583 3.1%
University of Roehampton 551 4.6%
University of Westminster 867 4.5%
Total 13,493

Counselling or mental health support during the academic year

Based on the universities that could provide a breakdown of counselling or mental health support by term or semester, it was evident that demand for there is a greater demand at the beginning of the academic year. Amongst universities with a semester calendar in place, the first semester saw nearly 3,000 more students seeking support than in the second semester. Meanwhile, for universities with the academic year divided into terms, the first term saw a far greater number of students, 7,998, seeking support.

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Source: Babylon Health 

Findings suggest the number of students seeking support have decreased in the capital 

  • Based on figures provided by 14 London universities, the number of students seeking mental health support decreased in the capital. London saw a  3.2% drop in number of support requests/referrals between the first semester/term of the academic years 2017/2018 and 2018/2019.
  • In comparison, 46 UK universities provided figures show a 6.12% increase of number of students seeking support by semester/term between the two academic years.
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Source: Babylon Health 

 

Below is the data received from London universities:

University (in alphabetical order) Year-on-year change (%)
Brunel University – 3%
City University London 4%
Goldsmiths, University of London – 8%
University of Greenwich: – 10%
Guildhall School of Music and Drama 15%
King’s College London 10%
London Metropolitan University 42%
London South Bank University – 64%
University of Roehampton – 36%
Royal Academy of Music – 25%
Royal College of Art 41%
Royal Holloway London 0%
St George’s University of London 2%
University of Westminster – 3%

Russell Group and Non-Russell Group Universities

A minimum of 1,000 students in 2017/18 sought support from counselling or mental health services at 40 different universities around the UK. Figures for the same academic year show that 1 in 18 Russell Group students (figures provided by 17 Russell Group universities) sought support and were more likely to do so than their non-Russell Group peers (figures provided by 79 non-Russell Group universities).

*Newcastle University was removed from this proportional calculation due to unavailable figures for their central campus’s student population.

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Source: Babylon Health 

Anxiety

illustration5
Source: Babylon Health

Anxiety feels like my shoelaces are tied in multiple knots, unable to be untangled.

188 anxiety cases per university in London

  • In the 2017/2018 academic year, 188 students per reporting university suffering from anxiety accessed support. 15 London universities provided this figure with a total of 2,819 students. Meanwhile, 150 students per reporting university (a total of 2,246 students) accessed support with depression as one of their presenting issues.
  • 329 students per reporting university in the UK accessed support for anxiety. 56 universities provided this figure with a total of 18,410 students. Meanwhile, 247 students per reporting university accessed support declaring depression as a presenting problem in the 53 universities that provided the figure, totalling up to 13,100 students.

Below is the data received from London universities.

University (in alphabetical order) Number of anxiety cases Number of depression cases
Brunel University 206 139
Central School of Speech and Drama 89 94
City University London 77 62
University of Greenwich 116 81
Guildhall School of Music and Drama 109 90
Imperial College London 27 37
King’s College London 325 243
Queen Mary London 221 145
University of Roehampton 204 251
Royal Academy of Music 69 34
Royal Holloway London 294 199
School of Oriental and African Studies 56 132
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance 90 56
University College London 724 533
University of Westminster 212 150

Babylon Health

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Source: Babylon Health

In addition to their findings, Babylon Health have accumulated quotes and art from students that have felt stressed, anxious, or depressed at university. Artwork and personal quotes can be explored here.

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