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‘People look at you differently’ : students’ experience of mental health support within Higher Education

Quinn, N. and Wilson, A. and MacIntyre, G. and Tinklin, T. (2009) ‘People look at you differently’ : students’ experience of mental health support within Higher Education. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 37 (4). pp. 405-418. ISSN 0306-9885

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Abstract

Against the backdrop of a massive expansion in higher education, the number of students in higher education (HE) experiencing mental health problems is increasing, which poses a significant challenge to HE institutions in terms of how they best respond to students with mental health needs. This paper considers the implications of such developments by assessing the experience of students with mental health problems within one HE institution. The factors influencing students' ability to seek help is explored alongside their experience of accessing and using student support services. The study found that there was a general reluctance amongst students to disclose their mental health problems or to seek help, largely due to the stigma that exists. However, students who did seek help from University support and counselling services valued this and students benefited when there was a formal link between NHS and university support services. The implications of the study findings for HE institutions are then considered.