38,000 Students were asked about their mental health by The Insight Network and Digin Box

Half of those who took part (50.3%) suffer with thoughts of self-harm, twice as high as 2017.

1 in 10 (9.4%) think of self-harm often or always

More than 4 out of 10 (44.7%) admitted using drugs and alcohol to cope with their problems

1 in 10 (9.5%) said they did this often or always

1 in 3 (33.9%) has experienced a serious psychological issue for which they needed professional help, which has increased by almost 1% since 2017

High levels of anxiety – 42.8% often or always worried

Almost 9 in 10 (87.7) % struggled with feelings of anxiety – up 18.7% since 2017

One third (33%) suffering from loneliness often or all the time.

More than 1 in 5 (21.5%) said they had a mental health diagnosis ; Depression (10.2%) and Anxiety (8.4%) Disorders

Stigma persists ; more than 3/4 (75.6%) concealing their symptoms from friends

We also flagged up vulnerable groups; 2nd & 3rd years ‘significantly higher risk’ than freshers

Highest rates of anxiety, loneliness and substance misuse

Persistent thoughts of self-harm were are highest amongst 2nd year students

Dr Stephen Pereira

Dr Stephen Pereira, Consultant Psychiatrist & Lead Director said:

‘More research is needed to understand the specific risk and protection factors at play during different years of University, in order for support services to effectively meet these year specific demands.

For further commentary see the press-release here – Guardian 5/3/19

Food For Thought

Patients are increasingly interested in utilising a wide range of therapies to support their mental health. Many are also keen to use minimal medication, especially in the longer term, and are looking for approaches which they consider to be more ‘natural’.


A nutritional therapy approach is evidence-based (informed by the best research evidence, clinical expertise and patient values and preferences) and tailored to the needs of the individual. There is good evidence for a range of factors including essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, vitamin D, magnesium and zinc), amino acids (including L-tryptophan, 5-HTP), polyphenols (the substances which give plant foods their colour), dietary patterns such as the Mediterranean diet, gut flora (the microbiome), food intolerances (including non-coeliac gluten sensitivity), improved blood glucose control, stress, exercise and sleep.


At the initial appointment, I take a full case history including current and past symptoms, medical history, family history, and diet and lifestyle habits. Lab tests are often recommended to assess nutrient status, and dietary supplements are often recommended to address nutrient shortfall initially whilst improvements to dietary intake are made. Drug-nutrient interactions are carefully managed. Specific and practical dietary and lifestyle advice is given which is tailored to the needs of the individual. Genetic, environmental and psychosocial factors are taken into consideration.


Patients typically experience improvements in their physical health as a side-effect of a nutritional therapy programme. Nutritional therapy works well alongside medication and other therapies, and indeed, I find that medication and psychological therapies appear to be more effective in a well-nourished individual.


Most patients will benefit from nutritional therapy, including those who already think they eat a healthy diet. In reality, most people don’t eat as well as they would like to think they do, and many will have individual factors which predispose, precipitate or perpetuate nutritional influences on their mental health.

Most patients have a series of about three to six appointments over a 12 month period. Nutritional therapy is covered by some health insurance policies. Please feel free to contact me at the clinic if you have any questions.


The Insight Network offers a Nutritional Therapy Clinic with:

Deborah Colson – MSc DipION MBANT CNHC

Registered Nutritional Therapist for The Insight Network

Nutritionist and Mental Health

Deborah Colson has been in practice, specialising in nutritional support for disorders of the nervous system since 2002. She completed her initial training at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition (DipION), and went on to complete an MSc Nutritional Therapy at the University of Westminster. Deborah lectures regularly to medical and other health professionals, students and corporate audiences, and runs nutrition initiatives and workshops for a variety of institutions. She has authored the books ‘Optimum Nutrition for Your Child’ and ‘Optimum Nutrition for your Child’s Mind’, and is co-author of ‘The Alzheimer’s Prevention Plan’. Deborah is a member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and is registered with the Professional Standards Authority-accredited CNHC (Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council).

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