Scottish Universities urged to “do more” for their students mental health

Scottish universities are failing their students as they lag behind with low student counsellor numbers, despite calls and investment for better funded services.

According to information obtained through multiple FOI requests, it’s estimated Scottish universities employee half the number of counsellors than their English counterparts.

The FOI information concerns the University of Strathclyde, Abertay, Napier, Heriot Watt, Stirling, Dundee, Glasgow Caledonian and the University of Glasgow.

Mental health charities have called it “an outrage”.

Stirling University was found to have the lowest number of counsellors at 1.8 per 6,783 students.

They did not reply to comment in time for this piece.

In comparison, Kings College London has eleven counsellors on campus, one per 2,919 students.

Mental health charity SAMH have called for more to be done by the institutions, citing “a duty to care for your pupils”.

A spokesperson said: “It is dismaying to see Scotland be so behind with this issue and we hope measures will be taken in order to help students further.

“Mental health matters, so we need our education institutions to show up and do more.”

It was recently reported undergraduates declaring mental health issues up by 76%, according to NUS Scotland.

Charlene Mackenzie, a student and MH advocate, said: “going to university can deeply affect your mental wellbeing. Moving away from your home, your friends and family impacts your health, particularly for students studying abroad or from low-income houses.

“I think it is shocking these universities charge so much in fees or demand extraordinary grades to be accepted, and yet they cannot care for their undergraduates in the slightest.

“We need to talk about the growing pressure young people face – which begins by acknowledging university is not the only way to get a job, like we’re told repeatedly in high school.”

This comes after the Education Secretary Damien Hinds announced a group, set up to offer support to students beginning university, to ease mental health conditions in England and Wales.

The Scottish Government is reportedly planning to introduce 80 new counsellors by autumn of this.

They were unavailable for comment.

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