Schools, college and universities can do more to support students’ mental health as they make the move to higher education, a new report has said.

It found these transitions can put pressure on students’ mental health, with many experiencing worries about academic demands, living at university, making friends and financial pressures.

The report – published by the Centre for Mental Health and the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust – says that an increasing number of students are accessing help from counselling and mental health services while at university or college.

Barriers to asking for help

But it admits there are barriers to asking for help, including stigma, poor communications about the help available, and a lack of knowledge from staff about the issues students’ face and the support they need,

The report makes a series of recommendations about changes that university and further education colleges could make to help their students.

It says that a “whole system approach” to student wellbeing is essential to improve those transitions, especially for those at a higher risk. 

The transition between school, college and university can put pressure on students’ mental health, says a new report.

BACP welcomes the report and the continued push for universities and colleges to take students’ mental health seriously, which includes providing access to adequately staffed embedded counselling services in universities and colleges.

We launched our university and colleges campaign in October, to help raise awareness about the importance and benefits of embedded counselling services within universities and colleges.

We're aiming to influence the development of the University Mental Health Charter, being launched by Student Minds, as a member of the advisory group.

Importance of embedded counselling

Géraldine Dufour, chair of BACP’s University and Colleges division, said: “The first few weeks or months at a new college or university can be an exciting time for many students, filled with opportunity and promise. But other students face anxieties about studies, friends, relationships and finances, that can spiral if not addressed.

“Initiatives that focus on prevention and that help students to adjust are greatly welcomed but unfortunately not always enough for everyone. This is why we’re campaigning to raise awareness about the importance and benefits of embedded counselling services within universities and colleges. It’s vital colleges and universities offer support through professionally-trained counsellors to ensure that their students have access to the right support, at the right time.”

Read more about our Looking After Students' Mental Health campaign.