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Levels of mental illness, mental distress and low well-being among students in higher education is increasing (IPPR 2017). 75% of adults with mental illness first experience symptoms before the age of 25. With peak onset from 18-25 (Kessler and Wang 2008). This high-risk period coincides with entrance into and time spent in third level education.  A new report by AHEAD, which examines the numbers of students with disabilities in higher education in the academic year 2016/17, found a 46% rise in the number of new students registering with a mental health condition. (AHEAD 2018).

As well as increase in the number of students who formally declare a mental health condition to their HEI, there are a high number who have self-reported mental distress. While not always meeting the threshold for mental illness, the distress is likely to have a significant effect on their ability to thrive both academically and personally and lead to an increase of demand for services.  (IPPR 2017)

While HEI’s are primarily education providers, they also have a responsibility to protecting and promoting students mental health and wellbeing. Since July 2017 the HSE have provided funding to support the mental health project in USI.  It is clear from the statistics that this project within USI to examine and advocate for services to meet the need of the growing demand is very much needed.

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