Mental health of uni students growing concern

3 October 2016
Students playing bubble soccer at SCU's destress day
Students playing bubble soccer at SCU's destress day

The mental health of young people in Australia aged 16 to 25 is becoming of increasing concern and is becoming a top priority on the national health agenda accroding to Headspace, Australia's youth mental heath foundation. 

In the last year, more young people have lost their lives to suicide than in motor vehicle accidents.

One in 16 young people is currently experiencing depression.

One in six young people is currently experiencing an anxiety condition.  

One in four young people has a mental health condition.

This is a concern for universities and university students alike as many people will experience these conditions while studying.

There are many psycho-social and demographic factors that contribute to the mental wellbeing of university students.

The psycho-social factors include feeling too much pressure to succeed, time management and procrastination, exam anxiety and problems achieving a work-life-study balance.

Many students also reported a lack of confidence as a causing factor of mental illness.

Other demographic factors that result in increased stress for university students include financial stress and having to move away from home in order to attend university.

First-year undergraduates are most likely to experience the most amount of stress as they adjust to the pattern of life at university. 

Students that have reported financial stress have double the rate of mental illness.

Destress days and support services

Universities, including Southern Cross University, have begun to offer special days and activities on campus that help students when dealing with mental illness.

SCU’s Lismore campus held a 'destress day' on Sepember 28 to help students in the lead up to the exams.

The day featured a free burger lunch that was provided by student union LESXA and soup kitchen Five Loaves, and free non-alcoholic drinks were also provided for students. 

The activities that were put on for students were designed for students to have a bit of fun and also to help them relax. 

SCU student Connor Gutteridge said the day was a welcome break. 

"It helped me forget about the stress that I was under due to uni," he said. 

Student Caitlyn Parker echoed the sentiment, adding light-heartedly, "except for the fact that I stressed about how much work I was missing afterwards".

These social activities are an extension of the on-campus treatment services offered by many universities.

These services offer preventative health strategies and are supported by active partnerships with local governments and private health services. 

Many of these preventative health services are offered free or at a reduced cost to students. 

Universities also offer mindfulness meditation which can be taught in groups in order to help students manage their stress individually.

Self-care is also an important part of surviving university.

It is important that students eat well and exercise regularly, get enough sleep, partake in hobbies and stay connected with their friends and family during these times of change.

If you are feeling under stress, reach out for support. headspace provides counselling and support for young people on  1800 650 890 


Thumbnail image: Miguel Angel/Flick