The University of Sheffield is encouraging students to drop into its pop-up counselling services in an attempt to create dialogue and overcome the stigma surrounding mental health.
The pop-up event allows students to drop-in and share their problems in an informal setting with other students. This provides an alternative to formal counselling which can have long waiting times and limited flexibility.
The initiative falls on Mental Health Awareness Week, encouraging students to talk about their problems and recognise problem-solving and mental wellbeing as part of student life.
Despite 35 percent of international students studying in the UK experiencing mental health problems, according to a study by Campus Living Villages and The Student Room, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health in the UK.
The study suggests that mental health at UK universities is a bigger issue than acknowledged with 74 percent of students saying they suffered low energy levels, 66 percent reporting sleeping problems and 47 percent noticing a change in appetite.
International students often face the added obstacle of the cultural attitudes surrounding mental health in their home country. The UKCISA acknowledges that mental health may not be spoken about at home, leading to shame or anxiety about feeling low.
With the pressure to succeed academically, social challenges to make new friends and potential financial and language difficulties, it’s easy to see how international students can quickly become overwhelmed.
The University Counselling Service hopes the pop-up event will open up a dialogue about mental health and reassure students that talking about problems can help find solutions.
Louise Knowles, Head of Counselling and Psychological Well Being Service at the University of Sheffield, said: “Not everyone wants to talk with a professional therapist or counsellor. Pop-up therapy offers an opportunity for students who may just want to talk an everyday problem through with a fellow student.
“Low-key and informal, we have professional staff on hand to offer additional support if needed and to facilitate students talking with other students to help them all feel better that day.”