by Neasa MacErlean
Mental health issues are on the rise in Canterbury — with more 18-35 year olds seeking help and some 15 per cent of students being affected.
The Umbrella Centre, the charity focused on mental health, has seen an “increase in more serious mental health issues presented by 18-35 year olds”, according to Centre Manager Anna De Brauwer. And Professor Richard Scase of the University of Kent estimates that about 15 per cent of students are suffering some kind of anxiety, depression or other form of mental health issue.
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Talking of the under-35s, Ms De Brauwer said: “We are seeing more and more present with serious problems — more with suicidal tendencies and more who are self-harming.” Her colleague Hannah Costin, Day Service Manager at the centre in St Peter’s Place, said: “Millennials have less face-to-face contact. People are hiding behind their computers. Social media puts a lot of pressure on people.”
With a total of at least six universities and colleges in Canterbury, the city is known for its high proportion of young people. Experts in mental health are noticing a wide variety of symptoms.
Ms De Brauwer said: “We’ve known people who use junk food as a form of self-harm in the hope that they won’t wake up in the morning. Self-neglect is a form of self-harm.”
Professor Scase, who has tutored hundreds of students at the University of Kent, said: “Superficially student life looks good but there are lots of issues — from body weight to politics. Sharing a house can be a significant cause of problems — if, for instance, there are four sharing and one falls out with the other three. Then you can get ostracism and bullying.” Professor Scase has organised a talk on the subject.
Meanwhile, the Umbrella Centre and Porchlight, the homeless charity, are both finding that art, cooking and other courses can have a significant positive effect. Both run weekly sessions for clients.
The talk, on the mental health of young people, organised by the Canterbury Society, will take place on Thursday, 15th November at 7.30 at St Peter’s Methodist Church Hall on the High Street. Admission is free and open to all members of the public. The speaker is Dr Tim Noble, senior partner of the University of Kent’s health centre.