‘Toughen up’ attitude not helping mental health – student spokesperson

Morning Talk 31/10/2018
Photo: Getty.

A spokesperson for New Zealand students says the dramatic spike in students seeking counselling comes as no surprise.

Marlon Drake, of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA), says the extreme pressures on students these days haven’t been seen by previous generations.

Newshub revealed earlier today that counselling use by students at New Zealand's universities has grown 25 percent since 2015.

Mental wellbeing is a core part of health.

“Well-being and mental health is quite a new issue which we haven’t really engaged with as a society,” Mr Drake said, citing living and tertiary costs as new issues students face today.

He told RadioLIVE that part-time jobs and academic policy also weigh heavily on students stress levels.

But when RadioLIVE’s Mark Sainsbury questions whether students are simply “being too precious”, Mr Drake responds that it’s an easy assumption to make.

“I think it’s so important to get rid of this ‘toughen up attitude’ that we’ve had in New Zealand for so long because I think that can be one of the most damaging things that can really be the cause of mental health issues,” he told RadioLIVE.

Health Minister David Clark isn't surprised by the numbers, and told Newshub work is being done to remedy the problem.

The NZUSA is calling on the Government to provide public funding for student mental health services.

“Mental wellbeing is a core part of health,” Mr Drake emphasised.

But the Health Minister says the emphasis needs to be on everyone.

"Our concern is that everybody can access the mental health services they need, and that means of course supporting those universities that already provide it on their campuses," Mr Clark said.

"We want to make sure that publically available services for anybody - whether they're at university or trades or in the workplace - are available, so people can get the support they need."

Last week, Auckland University announced its mental health pilot in order to provide early intervention for students needing help with stress.

The programme, called Te Tumu Waiora, is currently running in five Auckland practices, including the University’s health services centre.

Listen to the full interview with Marlon Drake above.

Morning Talk with Mark Sainsbury, 9am - 12pm Weekdays and streaming live on 'rova' channel 9 - available on Android and iPhone.