More University Students Are Struggling With Mental Health

Three quarters of university students reported feeling a low mood in the past 12 months of study, while over one third had experienced thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

The worrying statistics are from a new survey of more than 2,600 Australian university and TAFE students, jointly presented by youth mental health organisation Headspace and the National Union of Students.

The survey found the following issues had impacted on students’ study in the previous 12 months:

* 35% thought of self-harm or suicide

* 83% felt stressed.

* 82% had a lack of energy or motivation

* 79% felt anxious

* 56% had trouble sleeping

* 53% felt panic

* 59% had feelings of hopelessness/worthlessness

* 76% experienced a low mood

“They might have moved out of home for the first time, they might have greater responsibilities financially and domestically,” noted Jason Trethowan, CEO of Headspace, to Buzzfeed. “Some young people might engage in risky behaviors such as drug use. They may have less parental contact leaving them vulnerable, and changes in their mental health going unnoticed.”

National Union of Students welfare officer Jill Molloy said there were many factors in the poor mental health of students: “Workload; looming deadlines; relationship problems; financial difficulties; drug and alcohol use. It’s a long list that students themselves say have a detrimental impact.”

Kalisa, a university student who overcame stress and mental health issues that caused her to take a leave of absence at one point, had advice for students going through similar issues.

“Most students feel like it would be a waste of time if they dropped what they were doing and started over again. But if it’s not working for you, it’s worth it,” she said. “If you stop what you are doing, rethink everything and try something else, you are saving time and helping with your mental health, because the more you keep going, the worse it will get, especially if you don’t ask for help. You don’t lose anything from asking for help.”