A third of first years show signs of depression and anxiety, survey suggests

One in four first years said their mental health was worse than this time last year

Over a third of this year’s cohort of first years show signs of depression and anxiety according to a new survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics.

2,000 students were asked to report how they felt during the past two weeks, with 39 per cent showing signs of “having some form of anxiety” and a further 37 per cent presenting “moderate to severe symptoms of depression”.

Since the start of the Autumn term, 23 per cent of students said their mental health and wellbeing was “slightly or much worse”.

On average, students rated their satisfaction with life at 6.6/10 in comparison with 7.1 for the general population.

21 per cent of first year students said they had used mental health services since last September.

Tim Gibbs, who headed up the student Covid-19 insights survey, said: “Over a third of first year students reported moderate to severe symptoms of depression with a similar amount showing signs of anxiety, a concerning amount of the incoming student body.”

A separate survey found that 40 per cent of PhD students could be “at risk of suicide.”

Dr Cassie Hazell, one of the authors of the survey, described the results as “heartbreaking”, telling Times Higher Education: “There is a real pressure to be perfect, which isn’t helped by the fact we don’t talk about how messy and frustrating doing research can be.”

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