Former head teacher Sir Anthony Seldon, who is now in charge at the University of Birmingham, has warned of an epidemic of mental illness among students. The Metro has reported that Sir Anthony said the number of suicides is at an all-time high with 134 reported in universities just last year, and he says it’s because “undergraduates arrive ill-prepared to cope with exam stress because schools fail to teach them the skills they need.” He added, ‘by the time young people get to university, in some ways it’s too late.’ At the University of Bristol, at least four students have committed suicide just since the start of this academic year. Last year, three fresher’s took their own lives at Bristol university in the first term. This is OUTRAGEOUS. Via my children and a family friend I have become aware of too many young people who have committed suicide at university and this has become an urgent issue that needs to be addressed.
So what is the problem? Mental health issues are increasing in our children and there is clearly not enough pastoral support for students when they first leave home. It’s quite a step up from sixth form, but nevertheless, is it an issue that needs to be addressed at university or before that? Sir Anthony said, “we should be doing much more at school teaching successful interventions to help them cope without pills.”
Student wellbeing is at the top of many universities’ priority lists right now, with more than 100 institutions taking part last week in an event that aimed to help the 29 percent of students who reportedly experience clinical levels of psychological stress. The organisers believe that excessive drinking, poor diet, lack of sleep and lack of exercise among students are partly to blame for the rise in mental illness and suicides. I would add drugs to that list. There are far too many drugs around that are surely causing issues that really need to be urgently addressed.
We as parents need to do more to highlight the concerns and find ways of supporting our children.