With growing concern surrounding the isolation some students have been facing, England’s universities are calling on the government to put more funding into student mental health.
Data shared with ITV News by Universities UK shows that whilst the Welsh government has provided an extra £80 per student in further education, in England, that figure is just £2 per head.
During the first week of national lockdown in March, the UK’s largest online student community, the Student Room, saw a jump of 87% in the number of suicide-related posts needing support.
The pandemic has seen conversations around anxiety and depression increase by more than three quarters (77%) on the site.
Lily Arkwright, a 19-year-old student from Cardiff University, took her own life last month on a visit home to Shropshire.
Her family have chosen to share what happened because they want more support for students struggling to cope with the pressures of the pandemic.
Lily’s mother, Annie Arkwright, told ITV News how her once vibrant daughter began to lose confidence, as the restrictions closed in.
“There was no contact in terms of lectures and tutorials.
"Everything was online and Lily’s happy-go-lucky social life was curtailed.
"I think it had a dramatic effect on her mental well-being”, said Annie.
“The light and the life were beginning to drain out of her.
"She was not her normal vibrant self.
"She was beginning to lose her self worth and value.
"She didn't know where to turn and provision wasn't made for that”.
It’s thought Lily had one counselling session at Cardiff but it wasn’t followed up.
Both Annie, and Lily’s 17-year-old brother Jonty, believe lockdown took away Lily’s usual support system.
'The light and life was beginning to drain out of her': Lily's mother Annie describes how lockdown impacted her daughter's wellbeing
“If she had told me I would have been there, whatever she’d asked of me,” said Jonty.
“But I think the restrictions meant she felt increasingly isolated.”
The Arkwrights would like the tragedy of Lily’s death to help other students.
"I really feel universities could do more to help young people.
"It can be hard to reach out. But if you are asked, it’s much easier to tell someone what’s happening in your head," said Jonty.
A Cardiff University spokesperson said: “We are aware of the very sad death of our student.
"We know the coronavirus pandemic has presented everyone, including our students, with unprecedented challenges and pressures. We have put in place additional counselling and well-being support.”
Lily's brother Jonty says more needs to be done to help university students
But Annie wants to see more funding for every university to make sure the right help is available.
"Lily was described as a ray of light and abundant energy,” she said. “If we can only use that energy to get people to ask for help, to go and see someone, to reach out, or to talk to a counsellor”.
“Please reach out, there is always someone there to help you.”
Who to contact if you or someone you know needs help:
Samaritans operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year, by calling 116 123. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at email@example.com
Papyrus offer support for children and young people under the age of 35 over the phone on 0800 068 41 41 between 9am – midnight every day of the year. If you would rather text you can do so on 07786 209697 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Rethink Mental Illness offer practical advice and information for anyone affected by mental health problems on a wide range of topics including treatment, support and care. Phone 0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri 9.30am-4pm) or visit rethink.org
Campaign Against Living Miserably's (CALM) helpline and webchat are open from 5pm until midnight, 365 days a year. Call CALM on 0800 58 58 58 or chat to their trained helpline staff online. No matter who you are or what you're going through, it's free, anonymous and confidential.