The hullaballoo over the increase in takeup of student mental health services has a disturbing undertone. Alan Percy’s recent Guardian article on the subject calls for a “nuanced” approach to the subject, then fails to provide it.
He analyses the possible causes of the rise in demand for services, assuming that most of these mental health problems are reactive, i.e. that students develop them as a result of stress – rather than arriving at university with long-term mental health problems. He then applies a ‘sick role theory’ and ‘labelling theory’ perspective to the problem. Students with mental health problems are accepting deviant roles that society should discourage, he claims. He assumes that stigma will follow them permanently if they accept labels like ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety’ while they are at university.
In fact, UCAS statistics suggest that at least some of this rise in demand is due to an increase in…
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