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The student mental-health crisis is a myth Therapeutic entrepreneurs have distorted the data

Santa Clara University students call on administrators to increase mental health services (Dai Sugano/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images)

Santa Clara University students call on administrators to increase mental health services (Dai Sugano/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images)


September 12, 2023   5 mins

It’s easy to fall off the radar at university. Exactly 20 years ago — 17 years old, awkward and terribly uncertain of myself — I did just that. Too young to drink legally (and apparently too ill-connected to procure a decent fake ID), I saw everyone off to the bars to make friends while I sat in my Canadian dorm room increasingly isolated. As time passed, I stopped going to lectures and retreated ever more deeply into myself.

It’s not an uncommon experience, especially today when young people feel more comfortable developing relationships online than throwing themselves into the uncertainty and unpredictability of real life. But I was also an early adopter of a nascent but now ever increasingly “important” message: these feelings you have are neither normal nor existential nor simply “growing pains”. They are a health condition, and the only way to overcome it is to seek professional help.

For the past decade, an emerging class of therapeutic entrepreneurs has consolidated this claim, warning that the problems of everyday life are simply too much for the uninitiated layperson to manage with their own resources. While recognising that deep emotional pain is part of life, there is a growing sense that even “normal” feelings require “treatment”, lest they spiral out of control.

This assumption has become most startlingly apparent on university campuses, where young people’s preference for seeking help from “informal sources” such as friends and family is frequently seen as a problem and a risk. Yet the modern education sector has always been a target for expanding professional services, as I detail in my forthcoming book. Since the Nineties, British universities have seen a rise in counselling services, with groups such AMOSSHE and HUCS lobbying heavily for growth. They swiftly joined forces with mental health charities and urged students to lead campaigns for more funding. And as concerns about student mental health grew, a wave of apps, surveillance tools, and other light-touch interventions emerged, offering solutions and even prevention.

Long before there was evidence, therapeutic entrepreneurs were certain that a widespread “mental health crisis” demanded these interventions. In 2013, with this in mind, the National Union of Students (NUS) conducted a survey in collaboration with mental health advocacy groups to push for more funding. The results must have been disappointing. Released during Mental Health Awareness Week, it claimed that “20% of students consider themselves to have a mental health problem” — a figure that combined those suspecting they had a diagnosable condition (8%), those actively seeking diagnosis (2%), and those with a confirmed diagnosis (10%). The only problem? The number was slightly lower than the general population of the same age, despite its conflations and reliance on self-selection and self-reports, known to inflate incidence.

The campaigners, however, continued undeterred. Ignoring the findings that students were at no greater (and probably lower) risk than age-matched populations, Poppy Jaman, chief executive of Mental Health First Aid England, stated that the NUS findings were “unsurprising”. It was proof, she said, that “the student community is considered high-risk for mental ill health, with exams, intense studying and living away from home for the first time all contributing factors”. Perhaps as insurance, the survey also produced the eye-catching claim that 92% of students suffered from “mental distress” — which spanned everything from “feeling unhappy/down” to “suicidal thoughts”. Put this way, it is surprising that 7% of respondents reported no “negative” emotions at all throughout their university experience (1% selected “prefer not to say”).

Still, campaigners highlighted that their “main concern” was the proportion of students preferring their informal networks to professional ones. As one newspaper asked of a recent NUS survey: “Why don’t students seek help from their universities — and how can this be reversed?” Or as one Director for Student Experience warned: “Ultimately, if high-stress situations go unmanaged, they can sometimes develop and even lead to mental illness.” It became common to hear that, no matter how small the problem, only professional support could prevent things from spiralling out of control. And the consequences of failing to seek help could be dire: “They may start to self-medicate with drink or drugs, self-harm, or even take their own lives,” claimed one commentator.

But would they “take their own lives”? Newspapers proclaimed a “university suicide epidemic” and campaigners dangled the threat of student suicides over institutions should they fail to invest sufficiently. The evidence for this was frequently cobbled together from Further Education, Higher Education and young people as a group. However, according to ONS estimates released in 2018 and 2020, the rate at which university students commit suicide appears to be significantly lower than the general population of the same age. For young people up to the age of 24, the rate was 2.7 times higher than those in Higher Education. Headlines might have read: “Going to university significantly lowers suicide risk”.

But they didn’t. When these stats were first released, media coverage maintained mental health advocates’ framing. MailOnline ran with: “Number of university students committing suicide nearly doubles since 2000”. The Sun went for: “SUICIDE UNI SHOCK”. Other papers demanded that the student “mental health crisis” be “top priority”, citing rises between different years. Counsellors were described as working on the “frontline”.

Yet the ONS itself had warned against such conclusions; it’s easy to produce a high rate of increase if you’re dealing with already low numbers. Indeed, a number of conclusions could be drawn depending on the year emphasised — for instance, that the rate had fallen since 2004/5 or that, in recent years, the number has fallen even more and remains low.

Despite years of encouraging young people to seek help for any problem “no matter how small”, increased help-seeking itself thus became a key indicator of the severity of the “student mental health crisis”. And here, campaigners were pushing at an open door. While the majority of students might still take their problems to their friends, they have been seeking help in greater numbers since the early 2000s. Today’s students have been taught through years of therapeutic education; trained in the virtues of constant self-surveillance, they know that as good citizens in the making, they should interpret distress as a potential “symptom” for which they should “seek help”.

These processes are greatly aided by what Nick Haslam has called “concept creep”, or the tendency for psychological concepts of harm and pathology to expand to include new and less extreme phenomena. It’s easy to see how this happens. For instance, two years after the disappointing results of the NUS survey, the organisation put out another which shed the restrictive language of “diagnosis”. Instead, it asked: “Do you believe that you have experienced problems with your mental health in the last year, regardless of whether you have been formally diagnosed?” This produced the headline-grabbing statistic that 78% of university students suffered from “mental health problems”.

At the same time, universities became increasingly receptive to the claims of professionals who promised that they could contain risk and breathe new life into institutions already struggling with their meaning and purpose. Universities, after all, are constantly exposed to the reputational risks that might result from young people’s behaviour. To soften this threat, promises to provide ever greater levels of therapeutic and “wellbeing” support have quickly become part of the “package” sold to eager students and their parents on Open Days.

But they are also selling a way of being and a way of thinking about the self. For all that is invested in myriad new-fangled interventions, they struggle to live up to that great healer: time. The kids might not be all right, but most of them will be eventually.

To say this has become heresy. I’m not discouraging therapy and counselling and no doubt many will need professionals. But they are not helped by being queued behind so many who don’t. Twenty years ago, when I ended up seeing a university counsellor, I realised in that awkward interaction that I didn’t need a stranger, much less some diagnosis into which I could safely place all of my problems. I needed some experiences, some meaning and purpose in my life and some friends to share it with. If I had not had that realisation, I probably would have become dependent on strangers and discouraged from relying on those networks that ultimately provided my release. Today, it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that this is precisely the point.


Ashley Frawleyis a sociologist, a columnist at Compact and COO of Sublation Media.

AshleyAFrawley

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Richard M
Richard M
8 months ago

25 years ago when I taught at university a fire destroyed one of the halls of residence. Fortunately everyone was evacuated well before the fire got out of control and no-one was hurt.

Later that year we held the normal Exam Board where we confirmed final degree marks and considered borderline cases. Early in the session one of my colleagues made the case for a borderline 2.1 student who had been one of those evacuated that night. She was a nervous person anyway, who had been very distressed on the night and fearful since, spent weeks back home with anxiety, and months later was still on prescribed medication. A very good case for special dispensation which was duly granted.

What happened next was an exemplar of social contagion. Every student known to have been “impacted” by the fire was suddenly the main focus of the meeting, regardless of whether they had reported any particular distress. Colleagues were tripping over themselves to make the case for their own students. Soon nobody was even discussing the merits of each case, distress was just taken as read. By the end, even whether they were actually in the building on the night of the fire had become irrelevant. Just having been normally residing in those halls became enough to merit a higher grade.

At one point we were discussing another student entirely and the meeting was asked if there was any case for giving her a higher mark. Somebody asked “Was she in the fire?” To which an older colleague who had long since stopped giving a crap responded, “No, but she heard about it on TV. Bump her up!”

I offer this story as a kind of microcosm of how well-meaning measures to help people with genuine difficulties so easily extend their reach. Inevitably this creates an environment where young people naturally come to expect validation and reward for almost any problem and lean into them. After all, why wouldn’t you if you can?

David McKee
David McKee
8 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

Thank you, Richard. This is a fascinating insight into grade inflation as it actually happened.

Adam Huntley
Adam Huntley
8 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

I am certain so much of the “problem of endemic racism” in universities can be explained in the same way

leonard o'reilly
leonard o'reilly
8 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

“Man is the creature who does not know what to desire, so he turns to others to make up his mind. We desire what others desire because we imitate their desires.” Not a fan, particularly, of René Girard, and that second sentence is dangerously close to being a tautology, but the point is well taken. People imitate one another because they don’t have to decide for themselves, because there is great comfort in following, because there is less perceived risk, because there is generally greater social value, and for perhaps fifteen other reasons I’m not smart enough to come up with. Throw in a tangible reward for imitating another’s victimhood, where you can score both sympathy and goodies, and well…there’s your A grade right there
I’d like to meet the guy who said “Bump her up.” My sense of humour.

leonard o'reilly
leonard o'reilly
8 months ago

Good points well written.
Haidt and Lukianoff ( The Coddling of the American Mind ) maintain that Safetyism and safety parenting create fragile children. As if that were not enough, and as the author recounts: therapeutic entrepreneurs then ensnare them in a ‘protection’ racket; psychologists compound their issues by expanding the definition of a what an issue is; universities, acting in loco parentis, and with an eye to their own reputations, are only too eager to make the campus a safe space; politicians insist on caring, the press on amplifying.
And then they had to go and invent social media.
Good grief. I’d be surprised if the kids were alright ( but can you believe the numbers? ) Still, Ashley Frawley is an example for them all, well and unwell.

Last edited 8 months ago by leonard o'reilly
j watson
j watson
8 months ago

Hit the nail there LO. V much concur

AC Harper
AC Harper
8 months ago

Totally agree. Plus what if the much lauded ‘experts’ turn out to be useless, or propaganda hacks, or not available because of ‘reasons’?
I have the privilege of watching (and helping) my granddaughter grow up. The storms of adolescence are yet to come, as is the transition to adulthood. But I rather expect that these trials are (rather like training AI and discarding weird results) part of learning, not a cry for help.
Some people will need expert help, but this is no justification for everyone to be shadowed by a Mental Health Commissar.

Charlie Two
Charlie Two
8 months ago

Indeed. why on earth should universities be responsible for student wellbeing or mental health? if i worked at Asda and got pissed up and in a fight at the weekend, or widdled in someone’s garden, no-one would be yapping off at Asda. if i had personal problems, no-one would think “why on earth hasnt Asda sorted out his mental health?” you sort yourself, with help from families, friends, communities, and then relevant professionals if needed – and as few of them as as you can possibly get away with.
Mental health tropes abound. for years, the far left loopers claimed more Falklands War veterans had died from suicide than those killed in the war itself; complete pants as the figures showed when they were finally released. the stats show that combat veterans are actually LESS likely to commit suicide than their socio economic peer group. we are far more resilient than the ‘professionals’ claim, and far more so than under educated, priviledged, ginger royalty would have us believe either.

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Charlie Two

Roger that.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
8 months ago

You have a point, but universities also contribute by adopting and enforcing a woke world view so that any students who are not malleable are thrown into a world where they are forced to pay lip service to a value system that they are fundamentally unable to accept.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
8 months ago

As a neuro-divergent individual who is somewhere on the autistic spectrum and also suffers from mild OCD with anxiety issues and poor self-image, mild drug dependency problems and frequent episodes of gender dysphoria, who is also traumatised by the impending climate apocalypse, I’d like to point out that the digit on my right hand that I use for typing is showing signs of incipient repetitive strain injury.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Mike Downing: You win the thread!

Last edited 8 months ago by Sue Sims
Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

I also have a digit showing signs of incipient repetitive strain injury, but it’s not the one I use for typing.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
8 months ago

I bet you used a Dictaphone when they were a thing?

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Don’t be rude, he used his finger like everyone else

Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Mike Downing, you little ripper! Brilliant comment!

Last edited 8 months ago by Alan Tonkyn
Sally Owen
Sally Owen
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Brilliantly done Mike!..

tom Ryder
tom Ryder
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Can I buy you a drink?

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
8 months ago
Reply to  tom Ryder

Add “repetitive social self-poisoning” to that list!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Bravo!

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
8 months ago

I think any study should cease to be taken seriously when it tries to prove there’s a mental health crisis among students when just being “sad or down” is a sign of “mental distress”. I mean, a typical degree is three years long. Do we really expect nothing to happen within that timespan that might cause people upset? If so, surprised it was as low as 92%.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
8 months ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

Especially so, when reaching the stage in our lives where we all transition: from late childhood into young adulthood, with all the new experiences and false starts that can involve, and all of it not only perfectly normal but necessary.

Last edited 8 months ago by Steve Murray
AC Harper
AC Harper
8 months ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

I remember feeling desperately lonely and homesick when my parents first left me at university. For about an hour. Then my new room mate turned up and we got stuck into finding out about our new lives.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
8 months ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

That 92% figure reminds me of the numbers “found” for sexual harassment in universities.
Apart from the self selection problem, the category was so broad, intentionally, that the majority of college students count count themselves as a victim – whether female or male, though of course the latter group wasn’t considered relevant.

Alix Daniel
Alix Daniel
8 months ago

I have been a family doctor over the past 30 years and can relate to the points you make here. It all started 8 to 10 years ago. Despite my acquired skills, I felt more and more professionally inapt in face of the suffering of young adults, I remember feeling unable to reach them , to gain their trust, let alone to treat them. Dialogue was impossible. Young suffering adults appeared isolated, atomised and in the defensive. I thought initially, it was the consequence  of social media or new parental education. However, I have now reached the same conclusion as yours. Therapeutic entrepreneurs have highjacked medical care in its whole entity. They have distorted not only data but reality with their concept creep and in doing so are damaging mental health and well being of us all. This must stop.

Richard M
Richard M
8 months ago
Reply to  Alix Daniel

One thing that struck me a few years ago, when my own kids were at primary school (they are at high school now) was how surprisingly infectious certain conditions are.
One child would start seeing the education support staff teacher because of anger issues. Then it would spread around the pupils and before you knew it they had all anger issues which required them to get attention from the education support teacher. At no point did anyone seem to question that some of these kids were just acting out a bit because they’re mates had and that they would be better off learning to self-regulate their emotions.
Now I don’t want to denigrate kids with genuine anger issues. Often these may be a consequence of family or medical problems. My own daughter has hypothyroidism which, prior to diagnosis and Levothyroxine, was probably the cause of her frequent tiredness and irritability.
My question is, what is the longer-term effect of so many kids have a “thing” which gets validated through treatment so early in their lives? Aren’t we simply socialising them to see every negative, but perfectly normal, emotion as a medical problem requiring external intervention?
Its no wonder you felt you couldn’t reach them. You could well be the first person who is telling them that not all negative feelings require therapeutic and medical intervention. If you’re not validating their specialness, why should they listen to you?

Alix Daniel
Alix Daniel
8 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

I understand your point. However, the profession of medicine has never been about validating the specialness of individuals. The specialness of each individual is an evidence for a proper doctor, an evidence or a truth which does not need validation and has to be respected at all time. The hippocratic oath is there to guide doctors on that matter. The problem of today is that most of us in the UK do not know about the oath. This is probably why concept creeps have distorted doctor’s reality so extensively.
However and despite the resulting screwed connection between sufferers and the medical profession,  I still believe that individuals, at whatever age need access to a proper doctor to be reassured, healed and sometimes cured. A human society without trusted professionals just cannot be and sadly,  a society with therapeutic entrepreneurs may not last.
I just wish some of the money spent on all these non sense studies could be reallocated to the  training of doctors in ethics, philosophy and collaborative skills.  

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
8 months ago

Not just concept creep but mission creep. Like many other aspects of our lives, organisations want to do more and more for us and discourage us from looking after ourselves.
It can’t be to the extra jobs and income that they gain as a result, can it?

I should add, that despite my facetiousness, this is a terribly sad thing to read. Life can be very difficult for all of us and a few people suffer terribly and, I like to think, get help from skilled, compassionate people. But most people don’t need it, they don’t need experts when they have their own robustness, their friends and their families. I find it distressing that some people want to make a few quid and undermine this.

Last edited 8 months ago by Jonathan Andrews
Lindsay S
Lindsay S
8 months ago

It’s the fact that those who need help struggle to get it because the system is clogged up with mental health hypochondriacs, that have been created/encouraged by all this nonsense. Not to mention that there are now whole sections of society that are holding the rest of us hostage with the threat of suicide!

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
8 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

You remind me of the trans activism which claims trans kids will kill themselves with getting the treatment they want.
It seems to me being stuck with a boyfriend or girlfriend who threatens suicide if you leave him or her.
It’s very wicked to force people to do as you wish with this threat, little better than threats of murder.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago

Good article. Just the sort of fact driven analysis that refutes the overblown claims of single issue campaigners including the woke on some cultural issues. More please. How about exposes on: How does progressivism impact exam results in schools? Does DEI improve tolerance and inclusivity in offices or lead to segregation and everyone walking on eggshells to the detriment of minorities? Have drugs companies captured their regulators? What does defunding the police result in? …

Saul D
Saul D
8 months ago

I found myself looking at an old public school alumni list recently and realised that we used to select not just on skill, but on skill plus courage – the bravery of perseverance and standing firm when under fire. Skill itself was not enough. Perhaps we have stopped selecting for courage, and put the timid in places where they cannot cope.

Kathryn Ecclestone
Kathryn Ecclestone
8 months ago

A very important analysis of a huge problem.

When I co-authored The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education in 2007 (research for it began in 2005) I could never have imagined how embedded and intractable the perception of a mental health crisis in universities would become almost twenty years later.

It doesn’t surprise me, though, given how powerful the therapeutic industry is and how nasty many of its entrepreneurs are when people try to challenge or question the premise for their very lucrative tax-payer funded existence.

Ashley Frawley’s article is a rare critique in an over-whelmingly closed debate. Some of the comments below bear out how socially contagious therapeutic culture has taken hold.

And, by the way, she is not saying ‘get a grip’ – her argument is much more sophisticated than that.

Graham Bennett
Graham Bennett
8 months ago

Yes, of course this mental health crisis is a myth and racket. I’ve been teaching in a university for twenty years now, and I’ve seen the rise and rise of this phenomenon. It is now a juggernaut wholly out of control. Essentially, every student is now assumed to be mentally ill unless they state otherwise. This is so that the university can protect itself against accusations of not ‘being kind’. If caught out in this way, the X (Twitter) mob descends, and we all know what happens next … . University ‘leaders’ are desperate to shield themselves from such mob attacks. Students aren’t stupid – they can see this. It’s a total racket which they cynically exploit. They now flock to the disabilities service to be formally diagnosed, virtually no questions asked, and receive learning adjustments accordingly. These mean that they automatically get higher marks and extra time to submit work. Why wouldn’t they pick this extremely low-hanging fruit when there are other priorities, such as socialising, gaming, and partying. I’m not saying all students are like this, but a large and increasing number are. In some respects I cannot blame them for exploiting the incredibly weak university sector’s line on this. I’m only glad that someone (Ashley Frawley) has the guts to come out and say it as it is. I wish her luck. I fear that if she is not careful, though, she will go the way of so many other university lecturers and be sacked on trumped up charges of ‘gross misconduct’. This route is just too tempting for university administrators not to opt for when their own livelihoods and the reputations of their institutions are put at risk. A sad sign of the irresponsible times we live in.

Last edited 8 months ago by Graham Bennett
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
8 months ago

There was none of this happening back in the 90s. I was happily studying, going out and making friends. Much like anything these days that should be exciting, higher ed has become boring and orthopedic. You can say this about progressives, they really know how to drain the fun out of anything.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
8 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Then you didn’t experience the hellscape of a northern university in the 80s. All there was for us to do was drink beer, watch bands and fail to get off with girls.
I wonder if I could get some trauma counselling?

AC Harper
AC Harper
8 months ago

Put in a claim for some reparations… 😉

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
8 months ago

A good article. Don’t bounce the other way though, and have ‘pull yourself together’ as a default response. There’s a middle ground to be found here.

Tobias Mayer
Tobias Mayer
8 months ago

I love your conclusion: “I realised in that awkward interaction that I didn’t need a stranger, much less some diagnosis into which I could safely place all of my problems. I needed some experiences, some meaning and purpose in my life and some friends to share it with.” I so wish more people would have similar realisations—or perhaps more to the point that more therapists saw the simplicity and effectiveness of this approach to wellbeing, stop all the psychobabble, inner journeys and the reliving of trauma and just help people find ways to meet their core emotional needs.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
8 months ago

Surely they’ll learn to ignore these therapists, as we did priests and brothers. Learning to sideline the pointless is just a life skill.

Micheal MacGabhann
Micheal MacGabhann
8 months ago

Spoilt used to be a word we used. Probably a banned word these days due to the mental health narrative invented by blue-haired brigade.

Last edited 8 months ago by Micheal MacGabhann
j watson
j watson
8 months ago

Really good article, and alot of consensus in the comments it seems.
I wonder though how much of this has an element of ‘learned behaviour’ from adults? And my thought prompted by way society has become more litigious? Find someone to blame etc, or a ‘condition’ to blame etc. Does it not have a similar ‘concept creep’ dynamic?
For example ‘direct to plaintiff’ advertising – lawyers seeking out the injured, or the supposedly injured. ‘No win, no fee’ encouraging aggressive litigation and no ‘risk’ to the plaintiff. And lawsuits being deemed a good thing more generally. Lawyers think they are doing good work, much like the Therapeutic entrepreneurs.
Point being – no wonder there is more litigation.
The subtle mindset and attitude behind the growth in this almost certainly percolates into other realms…doesn’t it?
I would guess the litigation example but one potential example of a form of adult behaviour kids and younger adults pick up on. Many more I’m sure.

Last edited 8 months ago by j watson
AC Harper
AC Harper
8 months ago
Reply to  j watson

If you imagine that there are too many sons and daughters of the elite than the new supply of elite jobs available, then you could also imagine that ambulance chasing lawyers are trying generate trade (and that some grifting may be involved).

j watson
j watson
8 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Didn’t quite get the ‘elite’ reference ACH (bit undefined and vague so tricky to know what exactly is meant), but whilst I suspect the penny not fully dropped for vast majority it does seem that the next industrial revolution, AI driven, is going to hollow out alot of typical middle class jobs which over the nxt decade we’ll all have to give much more thought towards.
I don’t think though this potential ‘threat’ forefront of the mind of many youngsters, and thus I doubt it’s a major factor in any perceived upward trend in mental health difficulties as yet.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
8 months ago

“…an emerging class of therapeutic entrepreneurs has consolidated this claim” that there’s a group in trouble that needs their help. The author sums up in a phrase the entire animating and self-serving principle behind all of modern nanny-state liberalism.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
8 months ago

I was homesick for a week or so at uni, until I saw a fit bird.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
8 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

As long as a week!

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
8 months ago

Must have been very choosy

Nancy G
Nancy G
8 months ago

Is anyone concerned about the ‘mental health’ of 18-22-year-old shelf stackers at Tesco?

James Kirk
James Kirk
8 months ago
Reply to  Nancy G

The old ‘you don’t have to be mad to work here but it helps’? Thanks to climate change neurosis they don’t have to work down coal mines. Thanks to gov’t policy they don’t have to climb ladders carrying bricks. Air conditioned Tescos sounds cushy and you can discuss Maslov’s heirarchy with passing customers in an ironic way.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
8 months ago

This is happening across the whole of society, not just in Higher Education. Each new edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual medicalises yet more aspects of normal behaviour.
https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm

Last edited 8 months ago by Dougie Undersub
Michel Starenky
Michel Starenky
8 months ago

The creation of fragile children begin at daycare/kindergarten.

Sally Owen
Sally Owen
8 months ago

Michel Starenky I completely agree!..

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
8 months ago

My wife at her nursery encourages the kids to climb tree and do sword fights with sticks!

She looks after the children with great care and attention but lets them take risks.

George Scipio
George Scipio
8 months ago

This article is absolutely right. I was directly involved with the issue of “we need more counselling” a decade ago. Universities are not therapeutic institutions, but they are seen as a lucrative gravy train by counsellors, mainly middle-aged and female, keen to be a “professional” but late into the game, so educated only in out-of-date and expensive psychodynamic methods. Students are adults. Their mental health profile is not significantly different from that of similarly aged non-students. Most of the problems are mild to moderate anxiety and depression. They can go to IAPT CBT services. A further aspect of the problem is that academically weak students will jump on any bandwagon that might “mitigate” their poor results.

Phil Mac
Phil Mac
8 months ago

Most of what’s referred to a Mental Health issues is a rational reaction to circumstances. It’s healthy to be stressed by pressure, or suffer from worry if you’ve got no money or a loved one is I’ll. It’d be weird if you weren’t.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
8 months ago

Interesting revelations here. The mental health “mindset creep” marches hand in hand with victimhood culture promoted by universities via identity politics to weaken youthful spirit, and place responsibility for one’s disappointments in the hands of others.

James Kirk
James Kirk
8 months ago

The idea that the world owes us a living is fading. Harsh conditions, hunger, thirst, war is the stuff of Hollywood now unless you live in Eastern Ukraine, Yemen or other parts of Africa. Soldiers come home with PTSD, they always did but it had no name other than shell shock. Who will ban social media? Take the vote away from the mentally ill? The Church is all out of ideas. Looks like every man for himself. The human race has been going for quite a while now and will sort itself out. It always has.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago
Reply to  James Kirk

For WWII veterans they called it Battle Fatigue, probably because so many of them, like WWI, fought for a full four years instead of one to two year tours. I often wondered about my father, a fighter pilot who fought
for eight years: 4 years WWII, 2 years Korea, 2 years Vietnam. He didn’t like to talk about any war. I would consider him a victim of battle fatigue.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
8 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

“a fighter pilot who fought for eight years: 4 years WWII, 2 years Korea, 2 years Vietnam”
Zero chance that this happened.
Try to be a bit more convincing please!

Peter G
Peter G
8 months ago

Zero chance? Do the math for a career soldier: 18 y.o. in 1943, 25 in 1950, 40 in 1965. Completely possible.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
8 months ago
Reply to  Peter G

So according to you WWII finished in 1947?
And, unless you consider Top Gun Maverick to be a documentary (spoiler alert – its not), there are not many 40 year old fighter pilots. The average age of US fighter pilots in Vietnam was late 20s.
I realize that my pointing out facts drives you guys into a frenzy of right wing madness but do at least try to get basic facts right.

Tom Hammer
Tom Hammer
8 months ago

You have apparently never heard of Robin Olds, USAF General who retired in 1973. 17 combined victories in WWII and Viet Nam. I served under him at his last assignment.

Anne Cattermull
Anne Cattermull
8 months ago

Quite right. I spent a year or so being very depressed and unhappy at university sitting in my room alone until I concluded that that was really boring and then I learned to sort myself out. It’s a tough age, your early twenties, but the last thing those with real problems need is to be pushed down the queue for help by the self-indulgent and worried well. It’s not fun but it’s normal to feel sad and lonely and anxious and hopeless – all part of coping with early-stage adulthood and finding your feet.

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
8 months ago

I think there are 2 things going on, not mutually exclusive.
1) young people grow up coddled, unchallenged, and weak. They arrive at university fragile. More are objectively depressed and dysfunctional than a generation or more ago. I see it them my medical practice, and also notice this with my friends’ children and my own nieces and nephews.
2) everything now is “trauma” and “clinical depression”. Theodore Dalrymple, as he does with so many things, says it best. “Out of the thousands of patients I have seen, only two or three have ever claimed to be unhappy: all the rest have said that they were depressed. This semantic shift is deeply significant, for it implies that dissatisfaction with life is pathological, a medical condition, which it is the responsibility of the doctor to alleviate by medical means…”
This is not a binary choice. 1 and 2 can (and I believe ARE) both true at the same time. And they are synergistic in that coddled children feel that life owes them something, so get depressed more easily, and are more readily diagnosed with “clinical depression” by the society that coddles them and considers it a societal and collective responsibility to keep them happy.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
8 months ago

This has become an all too common style of activism; monkeying with the numbers, even turning them on their head, or citing them and then ignoring them. Very popular among climate alarmists.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
8 months ago

Perhaps they need some tough love, as expressed in this old Geico commercial.

r ll
r ll
8 months ago

too many weak-minded students and individuals that over the decades since i was in school have become what they are today. No surprise , since Mommy& Daddy spoiled them. Universities sure do not want theis gravy train to end. what great adultts these students will become, NOT!!

David Pogge
David Pogge
8 months ago

If human beings were really as fragile and unable to handle any emotional distress as those of us in the mental health business are constantly proclaiming, homo sapiens would have long since been extinct. First, happiness is not the default state for humans, it is something to be worked for and, if one is fortunate, occasionally achieved. Sadness, nervousness, insecurity, loneliness, etc. are all normal human emotions and both a signal of something to be addressed and an impetus to do so. The inflation of sadness to DEPRESSION is but one example of the special pleading of those who make a living off of “caring” for the emotions of others. Second, dealing with these feelings is a normal part of the process of growing up and engaging with one’s real social environment (not one’s on-line pseudo community) is the primary mechanism through which normal people deal with, overcome, and mature from these experiences. Pathologizing them and subjecting them to professional attention disrupts this process and makes those who submit themselves to it weaker, less mature, and more easily led by so-called experts and professionals. As Eric Hoffer once said: “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” This is the case for the ‘mental health movement’.

Bernard Brothman
Bernard Brothman
8 months ago

My late mother-in-law had a term for this, “tyranny of the meek.” People get power, attention, protection support and feeling of being special by being victims, and not crime victims.
We did not see these conditions in the western world until recently. Perhaps some people see the benefits of fragility.
Social media plays a key role as young people seem to have lost the ability to communicate in person and live in fear of typing the wrong things on their devices.

Douglas Redmayne
Douglas Redmayne
8 months ago

Students have much to be depressed and/or anxious about: the climate crisis is an existential threat (the science is quite clear on the impacts) and there is also the likelihood of Artificial General Intelligence preventing their employment anywhere before they have had a chance to repay eye watering loans. That isnt to day there hasn’t been an issue with safety first parenting eroding resilience but it is too late to reverse the effects and it is better that they are managed

Richard M
Richard M
8 months ago

the likelihood of Artificial General Intelligence preventing their employment anywhere before they have had a chance to repay eye watering loans.

These are contradictory. If they’re not employed (and earning above the repayment threshold) then they’re not required to pay back their student loans, which will be cancelled after 30 years.
Student loans aren’t really loans. They’re a graduate tax on those who take them out which only applies in any tax year they earn above the threshold. Many, if not most, will never be paid back.
In any case, AI is not going to take everyone’s jobs any more than the seed drill, steam power, or computers did. New technology creates new opportunities and there is no government on earth who wants everyone sitting around doing nothing except thinking about how things might be better if someone else ran things.

Douglas Redmayne
Douglas Redmayne
8 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

I agree with you about student loans but not about AGI

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
8 months ago

“Climate crisis”. The “science” told us in the 70s that the world was entering a new ice age. All these “crises” are cash cows preying on the terminally credulous.

Douglas Redmayne
Douglas Redmayne
8 months ago

That is not what most educated people or what most scientists believe. We are also beginning to see the effects in weather patterns. Denial is very dangerous and irresponsible; fortunately most young people dont go along with it as deniers do not have an overwhelming influence over social media and, given that they are often older and unlikely to feel the full impact, are dying off so they will fortunately have a declining influence on the future.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
8 months ago

“Deniers”. Recognizing that the dire climate predictions of the last 50+ years were utterly wrong and continue to be – Al Gore’s made quite a lot of money on his carbon offset grift – isn’t denial. It’s realism.

Douglas Redmayne
Douglas Redmayne
8 months ago

The past isn’t always a guide to the future and many scientists are saying that current weather conditions are in line with some of their predicted scenarios. They are more expert than you, fossil fuel lobbyists or white van drivers

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago

You only have to be caught out “crying Wolf” ONCE, as Allison says, and your credibility is destroyed FOREVER!
I often wonder why that is?

Douglas Redmayne
Douglas Redmayne
8 months ago

That is a cognitive bias inherent in humans that translates to collective opinion

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago

Alternatively trust is very hard to earn, and very easy to lose.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
8 months ago

Because people are too lazy to seek out the original data and the contemporary arguments around that data.
As DR says, it’s a cognitive bias. The pernicious thing about biases are that in the main, they are unconscious so you have to continuously expend energy asking yourself questions : Is this a good reflection of reality as I understand it now ? What are the counterfactuals ? Why is this individual presenting this evidence in this particular way using this particular language ? Why do I feel a positive response to this argument rather than the counter argument ? and on and on.
Hours of fun, once you are retired.

Last edited 8 months ago by Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago

“Hours of fun, once you are retired”,
Exactly, and when you have that ‘luxury’ you have time to “seek out original data and contemporary arguments” etc.
However before that happy time, most are too damned busy earning a living, and thus have to ‘lazily’ rely on the opinions of others.
When those others, often designated as ‘experts’ appear to be contradictory or even downright dishonest, then trust is lost, and the default position becomes caution, or even ‘nihil facere’- do nothing.
Both COVID & CLIMATE HYSTERIA have hardly enhanced the hard earned reputation of Science. In fact in both cases one scientist only has to open his or her mouth for another to condemn them.Not a particularly edifying sight, as I am sure you will admit?
Don’t forget the Ellora Caves after you have exhausted Angkor Wat! So much to see and SO little time.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
8 months ago

“The opinions of others”
Aaah yes, there’s the rub. Well if an “expert” you are listening to is shouting in any way or using hyperbole then you should be on high alert for BS. Ivor Cummings springs to mind.
You can check very easily. You pick one grandiose statement that they have made and you look for the sources and critically appraise. I would say an hour’s effort at the outside in order to ascertain if someone is smoking bananas. Then you stop listening to them and try someone else.
As for HYSTERIA, what hysteria ? You have been listening to the wrong people again Charles. You should look at the IPCC reports and the confidence intervals they ascribe to the various scenarios. It’s all solvable with some political will and a bit of a push from the general population.
We were fortunate enough to have a good tramp around both Ajanta and Ellora in 2019. Awesome. Any other travel tips gratefully received.

Last edited 8 months ago by Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago

Leaving Ivor Cummings aside for the moment, the hysteria of which I speak was that of the HMG, the BBC, the NHS and numerous other media ‘idiots’.
The only ‘voice of reason’ perhaps predictably, came from Lord Jonathan Sumption KS. Eton & Oxford don’t always let you down!
Good to hear that you have seen Ajanta and Ellora, truly remarkable sites.
Nearer home what about the stupendous Roman Baths at Basilica Therma, Yozgat Province, Turkey? Staying in Turkey and much further west the city of Aphrodisias and its extraordinary display of sculpture. Alternatively if you can still get into Iran, the astonishing Gunbad-e Qabus in the far north east is well worth the effort.
A real case of “Look on my works ye mighty and despair”.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
8 months ago

“Not what most educated people .. or scientists believe” Rubbish.
“Denial is dangerous” In other words you must agree with me because I say so.
“Deniers don’t have a big effect on social media”. Social media is pathetic and trivial.
“Deniers are dying out”. And your turn will come.
What a lot of flatulence!!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago

Cymru am byth!

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago

I don’t remember hearing anything about that, and I have always been a news junkie. It was about 1985 when Hansen (I can’t remember his first name) of NOAA warned about a warming planet and weather extremes. He was right .