Supporting Mental Health In University & College Students

Protecting Student Mental & Emotional Wellbeing: Is there enough support? 

Leaving to embark on a new adventure at college or university should be an exciting experience and for many, an important milestone, whether you’re joining straight from secondary education, after a gap year or taking a career break to reassess your life goals and ambitions.  

At the same time adjusting to a new way of life as a student can be both a daunting and overwhelming process, balancing concerns about workloads and achieving grades with worries about making new friends, managing finances, feelings of homesickness and worries about the future and job security once college or university education has been completed. As a result, students are increasingly reporting high levels of anxiety, often or always feeling worried. 

In a study of over 37,500 students from 140 UK Universities conducted by The Insight Network & Dig-In, it was found that 33.9% of students have experienced a serious psychological issue for which they felt they needed professional help, alarmingly 75.6% concealed their symptoms due to fears of stigma. 

Deteriorating student mental health – How has the pandemic affected higher education students? 

The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has only further added to the deteriorating mental health and wellbeing of many university students.  

According to a mental health poll of 4000 students produced by the National Union of Students, 52% of those students said their mental health had worsened or been negatively affected by Covid-19, worryingly, with only 29% seeking some form of help. 

The Coronavirus pandemic has meant that students have missed out on important human interactions adding to feelings of loneliness & worry including: 

  • Withdrawal of face-to-face teaching 
  • Cancellation of social events 
  • Inability to mix with other students and make new friends 
  • Restrictions on visiting family 

Lack of these traditional interactions integral to the university experience have only further heightened feelings of loneliness and isolation which as a result have increased feelings of depression and anxiety amongst the student population. 

Making student mental health & wellbeing a priority 

The Coronavirus Pandemic has brought forward the urgent importance of effective practice in student mental health support and ensuring positive mental health and wellbeing of university students is maintained.  

In a recent report carried out by the Sutton Trust, 70% of students were worried about their mental health and wellbeing, with 21% of students unaware of what options were available to them in terms of mental health support. 

It’s evident a change is needed in how we all approach mental health awareness from institutions, but how can we all make supporting student mental health a normal part of daily life and remove the stigma of reaching out for help: 

  • Promote peer-to-peer support from student unions. 
  • Increased investment in student counselling and wellbeing services. 
  • Mental health awareness training/talks for university employees. 
  • University promotion of mental health support charities/organisations. 
  • Encouraging students to interact socially using technologies such as video calling for virtual events to reduce feelings of loneliness. 
  • Development of student support groups/networks. 
  • Educating students on how they can get involved in activities to improve their mental health through new hobbies, healthy nutrition and exercise. 

When is it time to seek extra support? 

It may be beneficial to speak with a friend, family member or even your university tutor. However, some students may feel they’ve reached a point where they need extra support to help them deal with stress and anxiety.   

Counselling can help identify issues and look for ways to deal with mental health worries more effectively and understand more about your relationship between situations and feelings to improve your mental health and wellbeing. 

How can MindSpace 247 help?  

MindSpace 247 is committed to breaking down the barriers to access to mental health and wellbeing services for colleges, universities and their students. Our trusted and highly skilled licensed therapists are available 24 hours a day. We can help you take the steps to improve your life, no matter what challenges you are facing in complete confidence. Get some MindSpace, call us on 0207 553 5010.  

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