Universities, colleges and schools across the UK have been told that support for student mental health must "dramatically improve".
Students talk about their mental health during education...
Is the Government supporting this pledge?
In June 2018, the government promised to award certificates of excellence to institutions of education that meet these new standards of mental health care. Universities minister, Sam Gyimah, said they would outline the criteria that institutions need to meet in order to gain recognition and is urging all universities to opt-in to the best practice charter.
The government also wanted to introduce an opt-in service for students which would allow universities to contact parents should the student in question find themselves in a mental health crisis.
"We want to make sure that every young person at university is better supported in the future, as far as their mental health and wellbeing is concerned"
Earlier in June, the Office for National Statistics published a report which suggested that 95 students took their own lives in England and Wales last year alone.
Why do students experience poor mental health?
- Being at University can be hard at times, with lots of new and scary experiences. Things like;
- Living away from your parents for the first time
- The anxiety associated with meeting new people and having to throw yourself into difficult situations.
- Exam stress and deadlines
- Pressure to succeed
- Life after University
- Getting the job you want
- The dreaded student debt
How to look after your mental health at University
There are many different methods for looking after your mental wellbeing, you shouldn’t force yourself to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable or unhappy. Here are just a few helpful tips you might want to try if you are struggling with your mental health.
- Me time - sometimes you just need time by yourself to relax, whatever relaxing is to you. Don’t feel like you need to go to every social event.
- Sleep - in and amongst deadlines and nights out, it can be hard to get a good night’s sleep, but you should try and give yourself a decent sleeping pattern. Even if it changes slightly at weekends, having a stable pattern has been proven to be more effective than long hours of sleep. So try and get up at the same time each day!
- Exercise - exercise doesn’t always have to be running/cycling/lifting weights. Universities give you lots of opportunities to try new sports and exercises as well as providing gym access.
- Tidy room, tidy mind! - get rid of all the mess in your room, open the windows and both physically and mentally you will be able to focus more.
- Set small goals - sometimes ill mental health can make even the simplest tasks difficult. So, set yourself small and achievable goals that are realistic and you will be able to track your success
- Eating healthily - It can be tempting to pour an endless cocktail of coffee, energy drinks, and alcohol down your neck whilst at university but this can quickly become addictive and can negatively affect your mental health, especially alcohol which most students don’t realise is a depressant. And it never hurts to get your 5 a day in too!
- Take a step back - sometimes it’s good to take a step back to think about what aspects of your life are seriously affecting your mental health. Things like your flatmates, chosen courses, university life, or friends can really affect you.
- Value yourself - you shouldn’t always be comparing yourself to others. Take time away from things like social media and remember if you think something is too rude to say to someone else, then why would you say it to yourself? E.g. you wouldn’t call someone else ugly so why would you same the same about yourself?
A wider problem...
It's not just universities and colleges that are facing challenges surrounding mental health, secondary schools and even primary schools across the UK are seeing increases in mental ill health amongst students, particularly around exam times.
8 out of 10 school leaders say fear of academic failure has lead to an increase in mental health issues around exam time
A survey of 1,200 teachers found that:
- Stress, anxiety, and panic attacks have increased by more than three-quarters (78%) in primary schools over the past two years.
- 76% of students are living in fear of academic failure
- 55% of students showed signs of depression during exam periods
SATS side effects according to teachers across the UK:
- Loss of eyelashes through stress
- Sobbing during the tests
- Fear of academic failure
- Lower self-esteem
How we're helping Schools, Colleges & Universities across the UK
One of the biggest challenges facing institutes of education is raising awareness amongst staff and even pupils. Our IOSH approved Mental Health Awareness and Stress Awareness courses can be completed in under 40 minutes and provide a highly engaging way of making staff and pupils more aware of signs of mental ill health and stress.