At least a fifth of British college students suffer from mental health conditions, with depression and anxiety being the leading issues, an AFP report has revealed.

Recently, therapy provider The Insight Network conducted a survey of around 37,500 students at 140 universities across the UK, asking them about their mental health. Almost half of those questioned said they used alcohol and drugs regularly to cope with health and other difficulties in life.

The rising number of youngsters with mental illnesses has been worrying educationists and policy makers for years. According to data by Higher Education Statistics Agency, the proportion of British students reporting mental disorders has gone up from 0.4 percent in 2008, to 3.1 percent last year. The findings came after a study of close to 2.3 million students by the Higher Education Statistics.

But the agency told AFP that it could not say exactly how much the increase corresponded to a general increase in awareness about mental health conditions or a genuine increase in actual cases as a result of rising disorders.

The UK government has sprung into action and announced in March a new working group that would support students to deal with the challenges” of starting in higher education.

British Education Secretary Damian Hinds said at the time that British universities “are world leading in so many areas and I want them to be the best for mental health support too”.

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