One in four Sheffession submissions were mental health related in the last two weeks, according to the page’s admins. 

The statistics come after the anonymous Facebook confession page posted a message signposting University support services available to Sheffield students. 

The admins told Forge Press: “It’s really worrying for us because the submissions are completely anonymous and we read them with no way of directly helping the person who wrote it.”

The current proportion of mental health related submissions is double the average for 2019 although roughly half of all Sheffessions reference the issue during exam periods. 

While there has seen an increase in these types of submissions since new restrictions have been introduced, admins said mental health had been a prevalent theme since the start of term.

“The general themes of many of the submissions surround loneliness, a real lack of motivation to do university work either due to the difficulty of online learning or a lack of communication and support from departments and anxiety about the new restrictions. 

“Many report feeling lost, not knowing what’s happening and the word ‘stress’ comes up a lot. Some of them are much more serious and are truly heart-breaking to read.”

Sheffield Nightline have also reported more students struggling with their mental health particularly in relation to loneliness and anxiety than in previous years, with instant messaging contacts increasing by 92% this year. Of those contacts, 57% have referenced Covid-19 or lockdown as a cause for their contacting.

While students have been reporting their mental health struggles to anonymous sites, reports to Student Access to Mental Health Support (SAMHS), who put students in contact with a mental health professional, remain relatively similar to previous years.

Similar to most mental health and counselling services, SAMHS saw a decline in the number of students accessing their services over the first lockdown. Earlier this year numbers fell back from 1,316 in semester two of 2018/19 to 705 in semester two of 2019/20. 

Numbers increased over the summer and during the first half of this term but they remain lower than in the previous year.

Where wait times between initial contact to an appointment with a clinician fell over summer to five working days, currently the wait time is around fifteen days. This is where it has been in previous years in the first semester. 

SAMHS now offers a fast-track route with shorter wait times for students who are having to self isolate.

But with the recent implementation of a second lockdown there are concerns over the detrimental impact it could have on students who are already struggling with mental health issues.

Speaking to Forge Press, SAMHS said: “There may be pent-up needs that will present to our service at some point in the future.  Whether this will emerge during this lockdown or once the Covid crisis begins to resolve is unclear.  

“Resources for SAMHS have been protected over the past year.  We continue to work with our local NHS services to ensure our students have good access to statutory services. There has also been significant investment in the new faculty based Wellbeing Service”

The Mental Health Matters society (MHM), who campaign for mental health awareness to reduce stigma surrounding talking about mental health, said: “Freshers are particularly struggling to socialise without many opportunities to meet people outside their accommodation, especially not being able to talk with other students from their courses.

“Other issues that people have encountered include confined spaces to self-isolate when having to stay inside small bedrooms both in the University halls and in student houses.”

Should you need to access support to help manage your mental health, Sheffield Nightline is available 24/7 and information on how to register with SAMHS can be found here.  


Image: George Tuli


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