Local councillor who tried to take his own life tells depressed students they ‘are not alone’

Ben Lawrie

An Angus councillor who battled depression and attempted suicide has told students they “are not alone”.

Monifieth Liberal Democrat councillor Ben Lawrie, a fourth-year student at St Andrews University, was speaking following a YouGov survey suggested that as many as 25% of students have a mental health problem.

Two years ago Mr Lawrie went public about his personal struggles when he revealed he attempted to take his own life in 2013. He struggled with depression while studying at Dundee College, despite doing well in his coursework and being in a happy relationship.

His own battle with his demons seems to be over, but for fellow students who have just returned to university after the summer break, exams, essays and debts can often make campus a gloomy place.

Mr Lawrie said there are always ways of getting help. He said: “As someone in their fourth year at university, I know the stress that’s involved in being a student.

“Coursework can be demanding, living costs are high and, for a lot of students, part-time employment is essential to sustain themselves through their course, which is an additional drain on time and energy.

“It’s important to look after your mental health to keep up with these demands but this is far easier said than done. If things are building up and it’s all getting too much for you, talk to someone.

“There’s usually counselling services available at university and they’ll be familiar with the trials and challenges faced by students. There are also helplines you can call during the night if you need someone to talk to.

“Nightline is a service specifically for students and you can get in touch with them over the phone, by email or through their instant messaging service.

“Things can feel overwhelming at times but you are not alone. There are always ways of getting help.”

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