Is Student Mental Health at Crisis Point?
Spend any amount of time digesting current media discourse and you could be easily forgiven for assuming that ti
me spent studying at university constitutes some of the most challenging years of one’s life.
The decline of student mental health is increasingly documented across global media and recent statistical and research releases further evidence this. It seems increasingly apparent that for this current generation of students, the time they spend studying is less characterised by opportunity, forging life long friendships, self discovery and learning and more by anxiety, isolation, feelings of hopelessness and suicidal ideation.
The latest ONS statistics tell us that the suicide rate in young men (20–24) has increased by 31% and the suicide rate in young females is now the highest on record. Research released earlier this year shared shocking statistics suggesting that half of students (50.3%) consider self-harm and a staggering staggering 87.7% struggling with feelings of anxiety. Students are very clearly not ok.
The impact of this is widespread. Universities are overrun with demand for their counselling and support services, Babylon recently estimated this demand as having risen by 6% but for many the figure is much higher. In short, every university is fighting its own battle and the inconsistency in care is apparent. However, waiting times are increasing across the board and resources are understandably creaking under the pressure of such high need.
The pressure to do something more for students is growing and made all the more challenging by limited budgets, calls for universities to take greater responsibility for student wellbeing and a growing number of student suicides where the circumstances are being (often legally) challenged by parents devastated that their children did not get the support they needed at the most critical time.
In a culture where blame is a growing trend it is quite clear that the current challenge is not an easy one to solve and the solution does not land solely at any one parties feet. But we do need to do more; so what does this look like?
We need to support universities to be able to meet the demands their students have for mental health support, to find new solutions to the isolation and loneliness that students are struggling with. We need to make sure that if a student is battling and calls for support, that call can be met with appropriate response no matter what time of day or night. And we need to bring parents into the loop.
Whilst there is a role for traditional services, including counselling, it is critical that we also explore new options for providing support at scale and to cut through barriers including waiting times and stigma. The status quo isn’t working, the biggest risk to students is surely allowing support options to stagnate or be driven by risk aversion and fear?
Our students are brimming with potential that we risk sabotaging. We need to support them to grow into the resilient and brilliant generation that they are capable of and to help them to overcome the challenging modern day environment they find themselves navigating.
There is no doubt that student mental health is reaching a tipping point and there is much to be done. But there is also no doubt that with the right support and guidance we can steer our students on a path to a brighter future.
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TalkCampus is live in Universities and Colleges across the UK and USA.
TalkCampus combats isolation, improves mental wellbeing and provides round the clock instant support for mental health using a combination of peer support, trained volunteers and professional staff. Real-time escalation enables universities and family members to be brought into the loop when a student is at risk. The first global network of its kind, accessed via smart phone providing your students with safe, ongoing and engaging support.
Find more information on how to bring TalkCampus to your university here.
“London Business School is excited to offer our student community access to the TalkCampus app. We have a richly diverse student body and we think it’s great that our students can be part of a global peer support network. We love the idea that students can get involved in co-creation activities and have an opportunity to share their lived experience.” — Sharon Rankin — Wellbeing Services Manager, London Business School. “It’s so helpful, just being able to connect with other people that understand what i’m going through (especially given how stressful things are for me at the minute) without being judged. I feel noticed and I feel able to share about my anxiety. It also makes you realise that you aren’t the only one out there facing difficulty. Thank you” TalkCampus User.
If you haven’t checked out TalkLife you can find it here