Mental health has been an issue that has come up everywhere in the last few years, but why has it become such a matter of grave concern? And why has mental health been particularly alarming among students? Based on our own research and findings, we have outlined an overview of the top three reasons that cause students to struggle with mental health issues.
- Academic pressure: universities can be demanding, and students may feel pressure to succeed and meet high standards (either set by themselves or their peers). According to a survey conducted by the National Union of Students in the UK, 52% of students reported feeling stressed about their studies, and 44% reported feeling anxious. Students who devote a great deal of their time to studying and still do not get the academic performance they are seeking are even more likely to struggle mentally.
- Financial stress: adding to the first point, the pressure to succeed may become even greater when there is a financial element attached to it. Students may struggle with the cost of tuition, housing, and other expenses. With the average tuition fee for universities in Europe rising to €7,000 per year (according to data from the European Association for International Education), the highest inflation in decades and limited availability to work (many studies are full-time), it is becoming increasingly stressful for students to survive financially.
- Social isolation: your student time is usually also a time of transition and change, and students may feel isolated or disconnected from their social support systems. Most students who have recently started have moved away from their families and friends, are in a new environment and are living on their own. This sudden change can have a massive impact on student wellbeing. According to a survey conducted by the European Student Union, 37% of students reported feeling lonely at university. Although this percentage may be significantly lower than during the pandemic, it’s important to note that loneliness will always remain a hidden danger on campus. Students who are able to find a strong support network (e.g. good group of friends) early on in their student time are much less likely to be at risk of this.
Students who attend university and are expected to achieve top grades, manage financially and develop a social life in a new environment are exposed to a high amount of stress. In all three areas (academia, finance & social), universities should offer students support and guidance, especially in the first year as students are still finding their footing.