The number of university students needing counselling revealed

Newshub can reveal counselling use by students at New Zealand's universities has grown 25 percent since 2015.

Documents obtained by Newshub show in 2017, 13,137 individual students used counselling services. In 2015, 10,538 students used them - that's a 24.66 percent increase.

Every university released its numbers except Lincoln University, because it doesn't collect data on individual student numbers.

The number of university students needing counselling revealed
Photo credit: Newshub

New Zealand Union of Students Associations (NZUSA) President Jonathan Gee told Newshub he was shocked by the figures.

"I think it's really concerning; we know that counselling services at universities are willing to help, but they're under increasing pressure to deliver," he said.

"The positive side of it is that students are knowing to seek help, they're going to counselling when they need it.

"There's been a decrease in stigma around mental health - that's enabled a lot of students to have conversations about mental health within their communities.

"What we're concerned about that if there's a 25 percent rise in two or three years, what's that going to be like in the future?"

Massey University has had a 69 percent increase in the number of individual students using counselling services since 2015.

The number of university students needing counselling revealed
Photo credit: Newshub

Meanwhile, Victoria University of Wellington has had the highest percentage of enrolled students using counselling services in the last three years.

The number of university students needing counselling revealed
Photo credit: Newshub

Health Minister David Clark isn't surprised by the numbers, and told Newshub work is being done to remedy the problem.

"It's part of a global trend; on the one hand, it's always disturbing to see a number of people struggling with mental health challenges. On the other side of the coin, it's good to see people are willing to come forward and seek help," he said.

"The challenge that's been identified over a period of time is the capacity to support people who come forward. Over the past 10 years, we know there's been about a 70 percent increase in the number of people accessing services.

"We can't train workforces overnight to handle that, but it is something this Government is turning its mind to."

NZUSA wants the Government to provide public funding for student mental health services.

But the Health Minister says the emphasis needs to be on everyone.

"Our concern is that everybody can access the mental health services they need, and that means of course supporting those universities that already provide it on their campuses," Mr Clark said.

"We want to make sure that publically available services for anybody - whether they're at university or trades or in the workplace - are available, so people can get the support they need."

National Mental Health spokesperson Matt Doocey told Newshub the Government needs to up its game when it comes to mental health.

"I think people in New Zealand are generally frustrated, and so they should be," he said.

"Mental health was a big issue in the campaign last year, and all this Government has done is kick it down the road for another year with a mental health inquiry."

When asked about NZUSA's request, Mr Doocey says it should be considered.

"Anything that increases access and efficiency to service needs to be looked at, and that's what this Government should be doing."

Newshub.

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