MORE than 1,500 students at the University of Sussex are attending counselling.

Figures reveal the number of people coming forward with general mental health difficulties has quadrupled in four years as students battle with financial worries and deadline stress.

The university now devotes £1,300,000 a year for services to support students, which funds a Student Support Unit and a Crisis Team for emergencies.

Welfare officer Niina Hallberg, 24, who was elected in March this year, said: “Our generation talks more about our mental health openly and how it’s fine to have mental health issues.

“The attitude towards getting help is different as we are seeking help before we’re in a crisis.

“You don’t need to be at the brink before you take care of yourself.”

The Student Union created a mental welfare report this summer.

Of those that responded to the union, only two per cent reported experiencing no mental health issues.

It claimed that academic stress, isolation and finance pressures at university were negatively affecting students’ mental health.

These pressures disproportionally affected Chinese and Asian students as compared with those who are “White British”.

However, the respondents generally spoke highly of the university’s support system.

Ms Hallberg, who graduated form the university with a masters in gender studies, said: “The response has been quite good from the university.

“We have had discussions and they have really valued the feedback that came from students.”

A Freedom of Information request revealed there were 1,521 students attending counselling at the university in the 2017-18 academic year.

This is compared with 782 students in 2013-14.

The number of councillors supplied by the university has increased from three to 12 in this period.

The Student Life Centre, which helps students with a variety of issues on campus, reports that in 2013-14, there were 244 people who came forward with general mental health difficulties.

In 2017-18, this had effectively quadrupled to 985 students.

In response to the number of people seeking help, the university now spends nearly £400,000 more for mental health support than it did four years ago.

A University of Sussex spokeswoman said the mental health of its students was its “absolute priority”.

She said: “Whilst it concerns us that more students today are seeking support, we are doing everything we can within our financial means to increase our provision and importantly evolve the services we offer to try and help turn things around for those students who need support.

“It’s well evidenced across society, both inside and outside education, that young people are increasingly experiencing negative emotions and we must all understand this more – and importantly provide mechanisms to help issues from occurring in the first place.

“We are extremely interested in this area here at Sussex and are specifically designing our new wellbeing strategy around how to prevent mental health issues, as well as supporting our students when concerns do occur.

“All students at Sussex can access free and confidential support through our Student Life Centre and counselling service.

“Our Student Support Unit is available for students with disabilities, learning differences and mental health needs.

“We have also now committed to convening an immediate case meeting (within two hours) when we consider a student to be at serious and imminent risk of harm to themselves or others.

“Support is available any time of the day or night – and our campus security team provides frontline assistance for students 24 hours a day.

“As well as these core services, we have a range of additional services designed to support students who may be experiencing mental health issues, including group therapy, drug and alcohol drop-ins and self-help through specialist apps, and we are increasingly investing in measures to promote positive mental health across our campus community.”