Content Warning: this article contains references to drug use, sexual violence, suicide, and self-harm.
York’s first Student Health Needs Assessment Report (SHNAR) was recently published revealing 7 shocking things the report uncovered about York’s student community’s wellbeing.
1. 45% of Students in York believe they suffer from a Mental Health Condition
Ill Mental Health has overtaken traditional student health issues to become the issue of concern both for students and major health stakeholders, SHNAR shows, as levels of reported Anxiety and Depression skyrocketing in the student population over the last 4 years.
24% of students have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, and a further 21% thought they had an undiagnosed mental health condition.
As of November 2016, over 1000 students were registered with a clinical diagnosis of depression, with an annual increase of 250% is the last three and a half years.
“if you asked me 18 months ago, I would say these universities aren’t taking mental health seriously but now i’d say there are significant improvements”
– Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Carol Runciman, at the City of York Health and Wellbeing Board
Indeed the University of York have taken several steps to improve Mental Health and Wellbeing following the shocking Student Mental Ill Health Task Group’s Report to the Vice-Chancellor.
YUSU Wellbeing and Community Officer, Mia Shantana Chaudhuri-Julyan told Vision “two years ago mental health was not treated like a priority in York, since then Koen Lamberts has put that as an objective under his own remit and took the initiative to do that, being personally responsible for seeing that it did improve, and in that time it has.”
“There’s no longer any argument within university, mental health is a top priority, this goes to show that awareness campaigns have paid off significantly”
“There’s real research and effort going into this, and with student representation across the board. I do think this is completely crucial.”
2. University of York students believe their health has worsened since starting their course
The University of York Students were unique in being the only group who responded that they thought their health had actively worsened since starting their course.
This comes as the Higher Education Statistics Agency announced in May that the UK’s rise in leave of absences and drop outs has been linked to poor mental health.
3. Dental health services for student in York is appalling
SHNAR revealed that 12.1% of NHS 111 calls in 2016/16 were related to dental health, showing that informational relating to dentistry available in York is inaccessible.
Students reported that dental treatment in York was “largely unaffordable“, and students who seek to use NHS Dental providers will find a backlog of up to a year.
Students are discouraged from registering locally and to instead use dental providers in their hometowns, a problematic notion for those who cannot afford travel costs, and many International students.
This leaves many students waiting for dental health problems to develop until they become an emergency.
“It is very difficult to make yourself a local patient in York, however you can get emergency appointments quite easily.” said Mia to Vision
“we are listing different dental services information in Freshers packs, this is especially important for international students”
4. Ambulance call-outs for Students in York are down by 10%
York Ambulance Services received over 600 call out in the 2015/16 academic year, with the top 10 causes being NHS 111 requests (20%), unconsciousness (9.5%), Convulsions (8%) and Overdoses/Indigestions/Food Poisoning (7.2%).
Call outs due to Psychiatric/suicide attempts accounted for 5.2% in the York, however on campus half of all call-outs were to incidents of attempted suicide or self harm.
5. Domestic Violence levels for Students are high
Both police data relating to domestic violence and domestic incidents, and record held by Domestic Violence charity Survive, highlight that students are a particularly over-represented group.
Domestic Abuse is consistently one of the top three crimes for which students are most likely to be victims.
Chaudhuri-Julyan told Vision “Women’s Rugby submitted a policy to YUSU about domestic violence, running a campaign with IDAS and Advice and Support, which is all in the works at the moment.”
6. Alcohol usage is decreasing amongst Students
SHNAR highlighted that York’s wider community perceived student drinking to be a problem for the city in increasing antisocial behaviour and poor river safety, however responses suggested that most students were drinking within the 14 unit recommended limit for alcohol each week.
Nationally, rates of binge drinking among young adults have fallen by more than a third since 2005, and many more young adults are reporting they do not drink at all.
SHNAR noted that many students reported “spending too much money, and feeling embarrassed about something they said or did whilst drunk”
“For freshers week recognising Alcohol use by students is a priority, speaking to the colleges to make sure there’s a 50/50 focus on events with and without drinking.” said Chaudhuri-Julyan.
7. Students’ Sexual Health Services in York are banging
Traditionally a problem, SHNAR suggests that students are satisfied with Sexual Health Services in York. 18% of students are on the sexual health register, 9070 people were screened for Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea with a 7% positive rate, which is relatively low.
The report noted that students overall are knowledgeable about where to access sexual health services, and that talking about sexual health has become more acceptable over recent years.
Chaudhuri-Julyan told Vision “not only is there the clinic in town you can go to, and unity health, but there’s a clinic in Wentworth on Wednesdays that students can go to too. As long as people go to these services we have that’s important.”
The City of York Council Health and Wellbeing Board will repeat the Student Health Needs Assessment annually to measure the progress made.