The University of Salford’s wellbeing centre is hiring new staff to deal with a large rise in demand for mental health services.

Pressure on university mental health services across the UK has increased with one in four students now experiencing problems.

Rachel Challinor, support service manager at the University of Salford, described a large rise in demand for mental health services by students this year – particularly in the run up to Christmas.

As a result the University of Salford is hiring new wellbeing staff.

Ms Challinor said: “Every year it goes up, but it went up a lot more than we anticipated this year.

“This time of year can be challenging for students, you’ve got assessment deadlines and you’re preparing for exams. Christmas brings out some of the worst in us as well as some of the best.”

The university has also adjusted its referral system, to further accommodate the increase. Applicants to the service receive a call within 48 hours to assess how the university can best help them.

The previous system saw individuals waiting up to a month for an appointment.

The changes are also designed to avoid appointments clashing with students’ academic timetables.

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Adele Jackson, counselling and wellbeing manager at the University of Salford, explained changes to the service were a direct response to comments from students about delays in getting appointments.

She said: “We really welcome feedback from students who use our services as well and have made lots of improvements around that.”

Ms Jackson added that students will now get appointments more quickly in order to meet their needs.

A large range of support at the University of Salford, including counselling sessions, group workshops and wellbeing sessions, are delivered through the AskUs service

Ms Jackson added: “AskUs is the main port of call for student with any student issue.

“Anything that isn’t academic should come to AskUs really that’s what we’re there for, we’re here to support students”

The AskUs desk is available from 8am – 8pm every week day. There is also Nightline, a confidential listening service available for support outside of these hours.

The University’s Student Union has recently introduced a new service aimed to help struggling students.

Rafiki was introduced to provide students with an alternative support network if they are nervous about counselling sessions.

The support group is a new peer to peer, drop-in service, led by students for students.

Samaritans have trained the students leading the program on how to provide peer support.

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