In the past decade, western societies have generally seen a positive shift in the level of understanding around mental health and wellbeing, particularly when it comes to the growth and structure in support networks. However, challenges naturally remain, with stigma and myths still a huge factor in why people often continue to struggle on their own.
In June 2021, the Department for Education (DfE) published a study “with higher education providers and sector experts to gain an institutional perspective on student mental health and wellbeing”. This 100+ page study goes into great detail about the services provided, approaches that are employed to help students and the prevalence of mental health difficulties and wellbeing levels. Despite signs of progress, the DfE study finds that gaps remain in services.
Clearly, more work needs to be done as our academic communities discover how best to embrace those among us who are struggling with a variety of mental health and wellbeing issues.
Student Mental Health Statistics
UCAS has reported that whilst the last decade has seen a rise of 450% in their applicants sharing that they had a mental health condition, 49% of 1st-year students told a survey that they had not shared their mental health concerns with their university or college.
Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently released the result of their Student COVID-19 Insights Survey (SCIS). Within the data were two eye-opening figures that demonstrated some worrying signs around student mental health:
One of the organisations that are helping to continue the necessary drive to improve awareness around mental health and wellbeing is the Office for Students (OfS), which specialises in working with higher education providers on all aspects of student life. They have previously discussed their determination to make student mental health a priority.
The past two years have had a huge impact on practically every society around the world. The slight silver lining is that it has brought mental health awareness a bit more to the fore, as millions of people suddenly found themselves suffering from stresses and anxieties that they hadn’t experienced before. One of these contributing factors was feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Mental Health Resources for Students
(Meg Sloan – Life Coach and Therapist)
Student Minds has produced a great resources page that offers guidance on a range of areas, including studying abroad, exam stress, LGBTQ+ advice or simply coping with student life. On top of that, they have a really useful tool through a platform called ‘Student Space’, which allows you to search for your university and will bring up a list of support services that can be accessed at your place of study.
There are also examples of organisations being more proactive in their approach to mental health. Student accommodation providers, Study Inn, have invested in an activities calendar, with a host of monthly events spread across their sites, designed to help to give students opportunities to engage with each other and to develop new bonds in their new communities.
(Hilary Sims – Life Balance Counselling)
Alongside these, you can find a list of useful resources that direct you to organisations specialising in supporting mental health and well-being across the six locations where Study Inn accommodation is currently situated.
Mental Health and Wellbeing Resources:
Mental Health Awareness Week
In May each year, the UK dedicates a week to the country being able to focus on how we can achieve a state of good mental health. Hosted by The Mental Health Foundation, the organisation started the event in 2000 and has taken responsibility for the annual theme and planning ever since. In 2022, Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 9th – to 15th of May and this year the theme is centred around ‘loneliness’.
This is an area that is often overlooked by our student populations. Usually, those moving into higher education will be viewed as ‘having the time of their lives, and this will be the case for many students, with new friendships, experiences and independence being something to cherish. However, a significant number of students find their new environments to be difficult and isolating, and this could be particularly prevalent with foreign students, who may view acclimatising to and understanding UK culture to be a daunting venture.
With Study Inn accommodation services having a large proportion of their tenants being international students, they have partnered up with Student Minds in a concerted, proactive effort to provide a support structure for any students in their midst that need help with their mental health and wellbeing, including ensuring either centre managers or security are available for 24/7 support.
(Helen Montgomery – Guest Experience Manager)
Whilst it is perfectly natural for human beings to want time alone to themselves, it’s equally imperative that we help those people that are feeling isolated to recognise that they aren’t alone, however much they may feel that that’s the case. As described, there are avenues for support, whether that’s having the need to chat to a professional in confidence or finding ways to connect with your peers.