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80% of Northern Ireland students 'had mental health issues in last year'

By Rebecca Black

Eight out of 10 students in Northern Ireland have experienced mental health worries in the last year, an alarming new survey has uncovered.

Almost half of students feel that these worries have impacted on their health and also their studies, the research from student body NUS-USI has revealed.

NUS-USI President Fergal McFerran has warned Northern Ireland faces a crisis if no action is taken.

Speaking on the eve of the organisation's annual two-day conference, which begins at Armagh City Hotel today, Mr McFerran has described the findings of the survey as "extremely worrying".

The student wellbeing survey questioned more than 3,600 students. It suggested that:

• 78% of students said they had experienced mental health worries in the last year.

• 50% did not reach out for support and a third were unaware of support that was available.

• 46% said mental health issues had impacted on their quality of life.

• 44% said mental health issues had impacted on their studies.

• 43% said mental health issues had impacted on their relationships.

• 49% believe that student mental health in Northern Ireland has deteriorated over the past five years.

Mr McFerran said: "If action is not taken immediately, we could see a crisis in student mental health and wellbeing in Northern Ireland."

He said: "It is essential that we have stable and sustainable devolved government here to enable the delivery of the responsive strategies and investment needed to address this extremely challenging area of mental health."

Mr McFerran said the number of students in financial stress puts the onus on government to scrap tuition fees.

"When asked which factor they believed contributed to any mental health issues they had, 42% of respondents said their course, and 39% said lack of money/financial pressure, and these were the two most chosen responses," Mr McFerran added.

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