Mental Health And University – Supportive Schools

Date

This blog is part of our Mental Health And University series.

When choosing a university, many factors come into play for young people hoping to make a good decision for their future. For young people struggling with a mental health condition, who have been in treatment, or who are otherwise concerned about their psychological well-being, these factors are amplified by uncertainties around how their time at university will change their ability to continue treatment or find support. 

Though many universities offer counselling for students, it can be difficult to know just what level of support will be provided or how robust the therapy on offer will be. There are a wide variety of therapeutic approaches and methods which can be utilised to treat different mental health conditions. What’s more, every young person is unique. Therapeutic strategies that have worked for a teenage boy with an eating disorder in rural Wisconsin may not be effective with a young woman struggling with borderline personality disorder in Tokyo. 

Knowing which post-secondary educational institutions have comprehensive therapeutic or counsellor support or which value mental health care and education is extremely important when choosing which university to attend. 

This week, we have compiled a list of universities around the world that are known for their mental health support and provision. We have organised them by where they are located and the type of support they offer, as a helpful tool for young people who want to take their therapy and treatment options into account when choosing a university.

The United Kingdom

According to a year-long survey looking specifically at mental health provision in the UK, the university which offers the most comprehensive support is the University of Reading. Located west of London on the River Thames in England, this university has a robust counselling and well-being service. While it does not offer psychotherapy or psychology services, it includes counsellors, social workers, and mental health nurses, as well as counselling placement volunteers.[1]

HUMEN’s survey ranks universities on five different measures: 

  • Student satisfaction
  • Engagement
  • Awareness
  • Financing
  • Service provision

While Reading ranked top overall, other universities ranked higher in the service provision category. The University of Strathclyde, Leeds Beckett University, the University of Essex, and the University of Aberdeen all scored extremely high in this area, which is worth taking into consideration when looking for a university that will be able to create and maintain a treatment plan for young people who are struggling with their mental health.[2]

Europe

The European Commission has put together a list of universities offering students mental health support. Some of these resources are merely ‘well-being’ departments, but there are certain universities that offer full psychological support and psychological counselling.[3] 

The Universté de Paris and the Technical University of Munich both have departments dedicated to psychological support. In the Netherlands, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers a program that matches student psychological counsellors to students who are in need of support for their mental health and also provides resources such as The Mindfulnest, which is a space dedicated to mindfulness and calm in the university library.[4] 

However, overall in Europe, the university which provides the most comprehensive mental health support is the University of Oslo, in Norway. As in other Nordic countries, students in Norway are automatically registered with a doctor who can make recommendations for professional therapy outside the university for those young people who need it. But the university itself also has a full team of qualified general practitioners, nurses, psychiatrists, and psychologists to see students at regular intervals.[5]

Asia

It is more difficult to track the mental health support provided by universities in Asia, as there is no ranking system for student health services, only student attainment. Nevertheless, certain Universities are known to be better when it comes to student satisfaction, which is a good, if imperfect, indicator as to mental health provision.

According to the U.S.News Education Report, Tsingua University in Beijing and the National University of Singapore are both very highly ranked.[6] Unfortunately, neither of these schools offer information on mental health or counselling services to students seeking to apply. 

USA and Canada

The United States of America and Canada both boast a fair number of highly ranked universities when it comes to mental health provision. 

In Canada, according to Maclean’s magazine rankings, Brock University in Ontario has offered the best mental health support in the country for the past five years.[7] The university prides itself on its mental health provision services, offering 24/7 text or telephone support to students via an app. There is also a comprehensive Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre, which offers students counselling, medical support, and professional accessibility services. 

This type of service is particularly good for young people who require additional support for learning disabilities or other forms of neurodivergence that make routine studying challenging. 

Other universities which ranked highly in Canada were l’Université de Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and Wilfred Laurier University, also in Ontario.

In the United States, it is universities that provide innovative mental wellness programmes which are consistently ranked the best for mental health support. The University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of California, Berkeley have both been highlighted by Thrive Global as having strong support networks for students, as well as robust mental health services. Colorado State University has also been noted to have excellent resources for students to use in order to strengthen their mental health, including a yoga programme, a student mental health app, and counselling services.[8]

Next week we will look at what the first year at university might be like and how young people struggling with a mental health condition can work to cope with the changes and challenges they might encounter during their first year of post-secondary education.

Sources

[1] University of Reading, (2022). About Counselling and Wellbeing. https://www.reading.ac.uk/essentials/Support-And-Wellbeing/Counselling-and-wellbeing/About-us

[2] HUMEN, (2022). HUMEN University Mental Health League Table. https://www.wearehumen.org/uni/

[3] European Commission, (2021). Mental health support for students in Europe. European Education Area. https://education.ec.europa.eu/news/mental-health-support-for-students-in-europe

[4] Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, (2022). Student wellbeing. https://vu.nl/en/student/student-wellbeing

[5] University of Oslo, (2022). Health services and counselling. https://www.uio.no/english/student-life/services/health/

[6] U.S.News, (2022). 2022 Best Global Universities in Asia. https://www.usnews.com/education/best-global-universities/asia

[7] Maclean’s, (2022). Canada’s best universities by student satisfaction: Rankings 2022. https://www.macleans.ca/education/canadas-best-universities-by-student-satisfaction-rankings-2022/
[8] Great Value Colleges, (2022). 30 Colleges That Have Innovative Mental Wellness Programs: These US Colleges Are Redefining How Students Improve Their Mental Health. https://www.greatvaluecolleges.net/rankings/innovative-mental-wellness-programs/

Fiona - The Wave Clinic

Fiona Yassin is the founder and clinical director at The Wave Clinic. She is a U.K. and International registered Psychotherapist and Accredited Clinical Supervisor (U.K. and UNCG).

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