The number of prospective students declaring mental health conditions on their university application forms has soared by 450 per cent in the past decade, Ucas has revealed. 

Mental health experts have said young people are now more willing to talk openly about their problems than previous generations. 

A new report from Ucas shows 21,105 British applicants had shared an existing mental health condition in their university applications in 2020. 

This is a 450 per cent increase in declarations since 2011 where the number stood at 3,840. 

Prince Harry’s statements on his struggles with panic attacks and anxiety and the recent popularity in self-help books have also helped to break down stigmas around mental health for teenagers, the report added.  

Alongside engineering, medicine and dentistry courses have the lowest declaration rates with only 1.4 per cent of accepted applicants sharing an existing mental health condition, the report states.

Robert Batt, chief executive of the Recovery Centre clinic, which specialises in mental health treatment for adolescents, said: "We see young people quite comfortable to share their mental ill health and the difficulties that they have.

"There has been a significant shift in the tolerance amongst younger people in identifying mental ill health.

"I imagine that mental health was not really on the agenda for 16-year-olds 10 years ago, but it really is now. We have got a little bit of that from the Prince Harry situation."  

The popularity of self-help books such as Reasons to Stay Alive by mental health author Matt Haig has also contributed to this, he added. 

However, the Ucas report also found that nearly half of students choose not to share information about their mental health with their chosen university or college.

Numbers to call

The most common reason is due to a lack of understanding about what the data will be used for, and the belief it will impact on their chances of receiving a university offer. 

Rosie Tressler, chief executive of mental health charity Student Minds, said: "Once you’re at university or college, asking for help with your mental health needs to feel as simple as saying you’re trying to find the right book in the library.

"We know that universities and colleges are working towards comprehensive whole-institution approaches to mental health, which will support and enable disclosure of health conditions at any and every stage of the student journey."