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Increase in Students Registering with Mental Health Conditions

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Big increase in the number of new students registering with a mental health AHEADcondition in higher 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. This cohort represented 14% of all new students registering with a disability in 16/17.

Ann Heelan, Executive Director of AHEAD, commented on the increase of this cohort of students, stating “The growth in the number of students registering with a mental health condition is significant but of no surprise to AHEAD. Supports are improving at second level meaning more students are coming through and a positive change in public attitudes to mental health is resulting in students feeling more comfortable in disclosing to support services on campus.”

Heelan elaborated on what needed to be done to ensure colleges adequately respond to rises in these numbers – “Our Mental Health Matters research from 2016 indicated that creating a positive culture of disclosing mental health conditions is really important, for example by talking openly about services available on campus during college orientation events. Clear policies and procedures for college staff on what to do when someone discloses to them can also prove very effective in ensuring that students get the support they need”

The AHEAD Report entitled ‘Numbers of Students with Disabilities Studying in Higher Education in Ireland 2016/17’ also found a big spike in the number of new students registering with ADD/ADHD, with an increase of 70% in numbers when compared to the previous academic year.

Another key statistic to come out of the research is that the numbers of students with disabilities in higher education has grown by more than 12 times since AHEAD first began recording this data in the 93/94 academic year. Students with disabilities now represent 5.7% of the total student population in higher education, with over 12,500 students registered with disability services in campuses across the country.

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To read the report in full and get more information visit

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