Poor student mental health a serious concern, says Sinn Féin’s Further and Higher Education spokesperson

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Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald says recent findings of record levels of suicide and mental health issues among students make it imperative that third level institutions do more to help young people struggling with university life.

She made the call after separate studies showed 78 per cent of Irish students said they had grappled with mental health issues in the last year, while in 2015, a record number of UK students, 134, reportedly took their own lives.

Speaking on the findings of a study by the Institute of Public Policy and Research (IPPR) on student mental health, Sinn Féin’s Further and Higher Education spokesperson said: “These findings are very concerning, they show the number of first year students who disclosed a mental health problem had increased five-fold over the past decade. They also showed a record number of 134 students who died through suicide in 2015.

“The Student Wellbeing Survey published by NUS-USI earlier this year also showed the scale of mental health challenges amongst students, with 78 percent indicating they had experienced concern about their mental health in the past year.”

The East Derry MLA said it was incumbent on universities to provide adequate support services.

“It is vital that universities have adequately resourced support in place to help students experiencing mental health challenges and that must include referral to specialist care where appropriate,” she said.

Anyone living in the North can call the Lifeline helpline on 0808 808 8000 if they are experiencing distress.