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New research into student mental health has highlighted how more than one in 10 students is suffering from mental ill health.

The research, commissioned by Northern Ireland’s student union body, NUS-USI, is being launched at the University of Ulster’s Belfast campus today with guest speaker Linda Bryans.

The survey of just over 950 students carried out by leading marketing research company, Millward Brown Ulster, aims to provide a measure of awareness and attitudes towards mental health among the further and higher education population across Northern Ireland.

Results of the ‘Open Your Mind’ survey show there is still a huge concern and stigma around mental ill health to the extent that over 60% of respondents agreed they would not want anyone to know if they were suffering.

However, students also feel that this stigma inhibits early diagnosis, which is recognised as being important to early recovery.

More positively, 70% of respondents would avail of services if they thought they were experiencing any issues, and the importance of confidentiality was identified as an important factor for students accessing services.

With regard to the types of help and support students would seek the most frequently stated were: GPs and friends or fellow students. This highlights the importance of a peer-led approach in mental health education campaigns.

Commenting on the findings, University of Ulster Student President Adrian Kelly said: “As this survey proves a lot of students are suffering in silence from mental illness. We hope this research will be the first step in raising awareness about this issue and finding help for those people.”

The research will help to inform the ‘Open Your Mind’ project during its duration as well as further and higher education institutions on the mental health needs of their students.

NUS-USI – the Student Movement in Northern Ireland is the representative body for approximately 185,000 students in further and higher education institutions throughout Northern Ireland.

‘Open Your Mind’ is a five-year peer-led mental health project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, which aims to promote awareness of mental health issues among students aged 16-25 across Northern Ireland. It is managed by NUS-USI and local charity MindWise.