New research has uncovered that students are being forced to wait nearly two months to speak to an on-campus mental health specialist after first raising the issue to their universities. What’s more, two fifths (41%) of students who have struggled with issues relating to mental health have considered dropping off their course altogether.
One third of students who have had to wait to see a mental health professional have ended up cancelling their appointment due to the length of time or anxiety associated with the wait.
The team at student discount platform Student Beans conducted a survey to highlight how important it is to look after students’ mental health and as part of their activity surrounding Mental Health Awareness Week. The study polled over 2,000 UK-based university students on their experiences with mental health at university.
Initially all of those taking part in the study were asked if they had ever struggled with their own mental health concerns, to which more than 8 in 10 (83%) stated they had.
When asked if they had ever tried to book an on-campus appointment with a university councillor/doctor to talk through mental health issues, 68% of respondents said they had.
Relevant participants were asked how long they had to wait for these appointments, with it being found that the average wait time was almost two months (52 days).
It was also uncovered that one third of these participants (33%) had actually cancelled their appointment. When asked why, 52% blamed the long wait and 39% said that they got too anxious to attend.
Of all relevant respondents, two fifths (41%) admitted that they have been tempted to drop out of their university course due to issues associated with their mental wellbeing.
Finally, when asked who else, if anyone, students have confided in about their mental health problems, just under half (48%) said that they confided in fellow students, and 1 in 10 (10%) had spoken to family about it. However, 40% stated that they had not spoken to anyone about their issues.
The Student Beans team have put together some tips for those who are currently struggling with their mental health and may be too anxious to speak to someone about this, or if they are waiting for an appointment on-campus:
Take up meditation
Meditation isn’t for everyone but it can be incredibly beneficial for those who struggle to stay in the moment and are incredibly anxious about future scenarios.
Give an app like Headspace a go; most of the meditation exercises only take around 10 minutes and you could see a drastic difference in how you approach life.
Switch off digitally
Looking at your social media channels at every free moment you find throughout the day can be incredibly draining and have a negative impact on your mental health. Although the idea of not checking your phone or social media for prolonged periods of times might be extremely daunting, giving yourself a break from comparing your profiles and likes to others will have positive effects in the long run, and even give you a chance to catch-up with your real-life friends and make plans with the people that REALLY matter to you!
Avoid alcohol and drugs
Although drowning your sorrows may seem like a good idea initially, alcohol (and drugs) can be incredibly damaging to your mental health long-term. If you find yourself feeling really low, do avoid drinking to excess (or drinking at all!) and instead hang out with your friends sober. You’ll find the experience far more rewarding.
Exercise is a great way to make you feel better with yourself as it releases endorphins. If you aren’t keen on going to the gym or doing a high-intensity run, a power-walk around your local park can be great way to get your heartbeat up whilst also allowing you to appreciate nature.
Reading may seem quite unappealing when you’re at university, as you already have to do so much of it for your degree. However there are some amazing books out there about mental health that can really make a difference. If you believe you suffer with anxiety or depression, try researching what books have worked for other people with similar mental health concerns.
These books can be a great way to keep you happy with yourself until you are able to speak to someone or until you are comfortable to do so.
Michael Eder, Founder of Student Beans said:
“It’s normal to have down days at university, but when it takes over your life completely and you find yourself losing motivation, then it’s time to put yourself first. Whether it’s taking small walks or meditating a few times week, ensure you are making time for yourself. The stress of university can take a huge toll on a young person’s mental health; we need to encourage them to be open about their struggles and let them know they are not alone.”