Improving mental health services at universities should be an urgent priority

Anxiety is at an all time high among students receiving higher education

The expansion and improvement of mental health services to support students suffering at university should be an urgent priority, a recent study has urged. The research analysed stress and anxiety levels among over 15,000 university students and claim the results are shocking.

The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) revealed that students between the ages of 18 and 28 appear to have a lower sense of personal wellbeing than rest of the population. Looking at four measures – life satisfaction, “life worthwhile,” happiness, and low anxiety – HEPI observed that the overall peace of mind and satisfaction of young adults is at an all-time low.

Alarmingly, this is the second year running HEPI have said the figures for student suffering from anxiety is at worryingly high levels.

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 4.14.19 PM

These staggering figures suggest that about only one of every six students admit being satisfied with their lives, and about only one in five believe that life is worth living, are openly happy, and have low levels of anxiety – highlighting the critical urgency of the matter.

The study said: “This makes intuitive sense in that young people balancing study deadlines, part-time work, decisions about their future and potentially concerns about debt, might be expected to display raised levels of anxiety, placing the onus on institutions and support groups to have services in place to offer help.”

Another issue for students receiving higher education is actually understanding how and where to find help. One in four students admit not knowing how to contact help at all, while seven per cent were unsure. HEPI also disclosed that students aged over 26 were the most likely to know how to receive help, their higher level of awareness possibly stemming from their greater acquaintance of life experiences.

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 4.23.31 PM

High levels of anxiety among young adults has been predominant for years, but were never published “due to concern about the robustness of the data,” wrote HEPI. “But, after improvements to the questions, the levels of anxiety remain so high as to be a matter of serious concern.”

Anxiety was reported to be the number one reason pushing students to attend counseling. HEPI also studied the link between workload and wellbeing, and found out that the correlation was unclear; though greater levels of work reduced the feeling of being happy and satisfied with life, they also increased the students’ sense of feeling worthwhile.

The benefits of attending university are clear and long-lasting. Making those years enjoyable, however, is an urgent matter that can be addressed by educating prospective students on what to expect at university as well as by expanding mental health institutions and making them more accessible.