Exam stress and debt coupled to lack of support is creating increased stress and depression
University students face a mental health crisis due to exam pressures and spiralling debts.
Student body NUS Scotland issued the stark warning as new figures reveal that students seeking counselling has nearly doubled in the past five years.
There were 8,180 requests for counselling support in 2016/17, up from 4,541 in 2012/13/
Although greater awareness of mental health support partly accounts for the rise in those seeking help, NUS Scotland says student mental health is worsening because of exam stress, part-time working and debt.
There are now 55 part time counsellors in Scotland’s universities compared to 21 in 2012.
The body is calling for increased resources from the Scottish Government to tackle the problem.
Liam McCabe, president of NUS Scotland, said: “Across Scotland, universities are seeing demand rocket, while resources are increasingly stretched.
“While everyone can experience mental ill-health, student life comes with huge pressures – from balancing study with part-time work to finding a new home or a job come graduation time.
"While it’s vital to tackle the causes of these pressures it’s also crucial that counselling services are in place to help those students whose mental health is affected."
Andrew Reeves, chair of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, called for better support for students in universities.
"It is deeply concerning if universities are considering downgrading or reducing counselling services within their institutions, particularly surrounding complex mental health needs amongst students,” he said.
David Lott, deputy director of Universities Scotland, said the welfare of students was a top priority.
"We want to help our students with their problems as early as possible and students in need should speak to staff,” he said.
“We are aware that the demand for mental health services is rising at our institutions and that, more broadly, there are challenges faced by these type of services.
“We also know that poor mental health does not discriminate when it comes to age, status or background."