University counselling services ‘inundated by stressed academics’

Stressed out academics are inundating university counselling services as they grapple with heavy workloads and oppressive management, a report says. The BBC reports.

Referrals to such services had risen by three-quarters between 2009 and 2015, the study for the Higher Education Policy Institute indicated.

Author Dr Liz Morrish said academics were facing unmanageable workloads in university “anxiety machines”.

Until recently, the mental health of students rather than academics has been in sharp focus, with a string of student suicides prompting attempts to support young people living away from home.

But the deaths by suicide of two respected academics, Malcolm Anderson, at Cardiff University, and Prof Stefan Grimm, at Imperial College, have highlighted the excessive pressure that some academics feel.

Dr Morrish’s study suggested the pressure of performance management and a data-led culture of surveillance had led middle-aged academics to be at greater suicide risk then either students or peers in other professions.

The average increase in referrals to counselling services, whether self-referred or otherwise, was 77% but, in many universities, rates of increase between 2009 and 2016 were much higher:

  • University of Warwick- 316%
  • University of Kent – 292%
  • Brunel University – 177%
  • Newcastle University – 126%
  • University of Bristol – 88%
  • University of Portsmouth – 74%
  • University of Edinburgh – 72%

Acting general secretary of the University and College Union Paul Cottrell said: “Excessive workloads, a lack of job security and managers obsessed with league tables and rankings have blighted the sector for years and this report lays bare the negative impact those working conditions have on the mental health of staff.

“Universities need to support their staff and ensure they can get the help they need but, crucially, they have to tackle the root cause of these problems.”

Read the full article University counselling services ‘inundated by stressed academics’ 

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