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A new report has shown a further rise in the number of university staff seeking counselling and support for mental health issues.
The publication, Pressure Vessels II, by the Higher Education Policy Institute, is a follow-up on a report first published in 2019, which found significantly increases in counselling and occupational health referrals at universities between 2016 and 2018.
The HEPI Occasional Paper, Pressure Vessels, by Liz Morrish (2019) analysed data obtained from Freedom of Information enquiries of 74 higher education institutions (HEIs) in the UK which employed more than 2,000 staff.
The Freedom of Information requests sought information relating to the number of university employees accessing counselling services and referred to occupational health (some in-house services and some via Employee Assistance Programmes), to gain insight into trends from 2009/10 to 2015/16.There had previously been significant media coverage about the rising rates of poor mental health among students, but this was the first detailed analysis of the situation for higher education staff, whose working environment and mental health have been comparatively neglected. The Pressure Vessels report focused primarily on academic staff. The authors now wish to draw attention towards a generalised problem for all staff and, in particular, for professional services staff. Professional services staff are often marginalised in discussions about the higher education workforce, despite the significant roles they play. They are also more likely to be vulnerable to restructuring and redundancy.
The report is available here