Given that the majority of mental health problems develop by the age of 24, college and university students are a group at high risk of having mental health problems.
Starting college or university is a major life transition and can be both exciting and overwhelming. Not only must students manage multiple academic and social pressures, they must also navigate developmental challenges as they transition to adulthood.
Students today are faced with unique concerns compared to students in the past. This includes the stress of unprecedented financial burden from student loans and increased tuition fees, and the potentially negative consequences on wellbeing of the use of digital technologies and social media.
94% Require Counselling Services
94% of higher education institutions reporting an increase in demand for their counselling services leading to long delays for students to receive any kind of support or treatment. Despite the surge in help-seeking behaviour, evidence suggested that many students do not seek mental health treatment.
Mental Health is Associated with Poor Academic Outcomes
There are a range of implications of worsening mental health among students. Poor mental health has been associated with poorer academic outcomes, as students tend to be less able to effectively manage stress and pressure and, thus, their ability to perform given tasks productively is diminished
Statistics highlight a 210% increase in university dropouts among students with mental health problems from 2009/10 to 2014/15.6 Of even greater concern is that student suicides have increased by 79% from 2007 (75) to 2015 (134).
What Can be Done?
Colleges and Universities need to adopt a whole-university approach to student mental health, which should be informed by best practice. Universities and higher education institutions should seek to implement currently available programmes to strengthen the current evidence base.
Addressing mental health in students can have a positive effect on mental health in later life. By ensuring student mental health is treated as a societal concern, we can encourage early intervention and action.
By intervening early, at a critical transition point in young people’s lives, we can avoid the long-term risks associated with poor mental health, which can have far-reaching consequences for the next generation.
Today’s first year university students have lived through the uncertainty of the A-Level results, months of disruption to learning in their final year of school, and not being
What Can be Done?
able to properly mark and celebrate significant moments, like their last day of school, and leaving home for the first time. They’re now facing an experience unlike any other before and must still contend with all of the challenges student life brings.
Then there are the added challenges faced by mature students, students who are parents or carers, students who work part time, or students living with long-term conditions.
A positive outcome of the pandemic is that across the country there seem to be more and more conversations about the impact of our circumstances on our mental health.
Students are among the least likely to ask for help for a mental health problem, tackling the stigma around mental health is crucial. 75% of students with a mental health diagnosis admitted to concealing their symptoms due to a fear of stigma.
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