Mental Health at University

As fun and valuable an experience university can be, it is also a huge leap into the unknown. For most students it is their first taste of living away from home, which in itself can be a hugely stressful transition. Couple this with financial strain and academic pressure, and it's no wonder that mental health problems are so common in university students.

What are the facts?

Human head thinking (iStock)
iStock © ARTQU
Mental health problems can often feel like your head
is in overdrive – but help is available

Why are students so vulnerable?

Financial pressure

While financial strain is widely accepted as a major stressor in students and adults alike, there have been suggestions that the recent increase in tuition fees (effective for students enrolling in September 2012) has further added to this. Although its important to note that correlation is not causation, there are striking statistics from a number of universities that appear to support this claim:

Academic pressure

The stress of exams, coursework and expectation is nothing new to students, but the intensity and nature of it at university can come as something of a shock. More than at any other time in their lives, students are asked to learn independently, to manage their own time, and to think critically and originally. For many students this sudden burden of responsiblity can be overwhelming and serve as a significant source of stress.

Feeling like you should be enjoying yourself

Before you start, and throughout your time as a student, people will say that university is the best time of your life. For many people it will be, but for those who aren't as fortunate, the added pressure of feeling as though you must have fun does nothing but add to the problem.

Your first ever fresh start

Prior to starting university, only a small minority of students are likely to have moved to a different area, different school, or have done anything else that has meant a completely fresh start – that is, a new life, with new friends and new home. At university, along with everything else that changes, students are expected to make a whole new group of friends and get settled into their new home.

How to get support

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