University Mental Health Day occurred earlier this month, so we have been doing some research into students and mental health. We feel as though this is a very important topic, especially today as students have experienced a very odd year as a result of the pandemic, which in turn, may have had a negative impact on their mental health.
1 in 5 students suffer from a mental health condition; with depression and anxiety at the tip of the list.
1 in 3 students have experienced an issue for which they felt the need to seek professional help.
33% often/always feel lonely.
8% often/always feel anxious or worried.
In most cases, feelings of loneliness, anxiety and worry, go hand-in-hand.
People often believe that student life is easy and enjoyable 100% of the time. When I started my university journey, I could not count the amount of people who turned to me and said: ‘The next three years will be the very best of your life!’ No one told me that they would be the hardest years of my life.
Yes, university can have its fun aspects, such as student nights, quizzes, karaoke and group nights out… but they don’t happen as often as one may think.
My university had weekly student nights in the student bar, I can confirm that over my three years of studying there, I did not attend a single one. I was too busy with assignments and my part-time job to go to mid-week student nights. The most we did was go to karaoke nights maybe once a month near to home, so that we would not be out too late and could still get work done the next day.
University brings a lot of pressure to students. Often with little support and guidance.
- Multiple deadlines creeping up at once.
- Dedicating a lot of time to reading and researching.
- Falling behind in one class, so skipping another in order to catch up.
- Being away from home.
- Presentations in front of the whole class.
- Exams to study for.
The above list shows typical student life and what to expect… but then you throw in a global pandemic; and everything changes.
Students struggle with mental health as a result of feeling stressed, lonely and often homesick. However, for students who have been studying over the last year, the rates of mental health conditions in students has sky-rocketed.
Studying during a global pandemic is not easy. In-fact, it is much more difficult.
Students have been unable to go into university, with all of their classes now being online. Some may think that this is great, however it limits the amount of support that students receive and technology is not always the most reliable source for education. For example, some students may not have wifi, or a strong internet connection, therefore they may miss some/all of their online classes.
Some students were unable to go home to their families during the pandemic, leaving them far away from home in their student accommodation halls; increasing their feelings of loneliness and isolation. Some may have had increasing worries about sick or vulnerable family members. Some may have lost family members, without being given the chance to say goodbye.
Most universities offer mental health services. Many students who used these services on a regular basis have now been left to their own devices during the pandemic as the services are currently out of use.
We need more services for students who are struggling with their mental health; not just during the pandemic, but throughout their time in education.
If you know someone who is a student, reach out to them, make sure that they are okay, listen to them and support them.
If you were a university student once, reach out to others and share some helpful tips and resources with them as well as some of your own experiences! This will help them to see that they are not the only ones who feel the way that they feel, as well as showing them that they are not alone.