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Students declaring a mental health condition doubles in five years

Those reporting a mental health condition are less likely to progress into skilled work

The proportion of students in England declaring a mental health condition has more than doubled in the last five years, figures show.

Research from the Office for Students reveals 1.4% of full-time students declared a mental health condition in 2012-13, but this rose to 3.5% in 2017-18.

Female students were more than twice as likely to report having a mental health condition as male students. In 2017-18, 4.7% of female students declared a mental health condition compared to 2% of male students.

The OfS said these figures are likely an underestimate because students declaring a mental health condition generally do so only on their entry into higher education and stigma around mental health issues may prevent some students from disclosing.

The report also reveals students who report a mental health condition are more likely to drop out of higher education and less likely to progress into skilled work or further study.

In 2016-17, 87% of students with declared mental health conditions continued their studies after their first year, compared to 90% of all undergraduates. Among students who graduated that year, 69% of those with declared mental health conditions progressed into skilled work or further study compared to 73% of all undergraduates.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the OfS, said for too many students having a mental health condition is seriously impacting their ability to succeed academically, thrive socially and progress into fulfilling careers. “Mental health and wellbeing are complex issues and there is no simple solution. There is already a lot of good work being done to support student welfare but, as this data highlights, there is a need for that work to take account of how mental health issues relate to other characteristics,” she added.