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(New Zealand) Universities deal with mental health problems/suicide threat

July 18, 2018, Herald: Universities upgrade student mental health services, report increasing demand At least 11 university students have died by suspected suicide in New Zealand since 2015, prompting a shake-up of campus mental health services. The figures, released to the Herald under the Official Information Act, show the University of Otago had the highest number of suspected suicides by students, with four last year, and one each in 2015 and 2016…. The figures come at the same time as the first study of its kind in New Zealand showed 56 per cent of tertiary students considered dropping out because of stress, anxiety and depression. It prompted the New Zealand Union of Students' Associations, which commissioned the Kei Te Pai Report, to claim tertiary students are failing to reach their potential because of the mental health crisis. The University of Otago was the only one to report formal complaints about its mental health services, a total of nine since 2015. Student health services director Dr Kim Ma'ia'l said the university undertook a review in 2016 that resulted in a broadened and deepened investment in mental health services. That included recruiting more mental health nurses, social workers, counsellors, occupational therapists and psychologists. He said the new team had experienced a 57 per cent increase in direct contact with students compared to last year. At the Auckland University of Technology there had been a 55 per cent increase in counselling and mental health appointments in the semester one pre-exam period of May this year compared to the same period last year. Public awareness campaigns working to de-stigmatise mental health were also credited with more students accessing services. The seven universities reported comprehensive health services, some of which had been upgraded to cater for the increasing mental health demand. …

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