We spoke to 50 students from universities across the globe to understand how we can best support them in the run up to the holiday season.
The holiday season can be a difficult time for many and students are no exception. In fact, recent research undertaken by Gunnell et al, 2019 suggests that students are at highest risk of suicide in January, just following the Christmas break when students are returning to university. This is especially interesting as festive periods have often been considered protective periods for mental health with spring commonly thought of as the highest risk time of year across the general population according to research.
The Christmas period can be particularly tough on mental health with difficult family relationships thrown into the spotlight, high levels of alcohol and food, breaks in routine and an expectation to be having a great time. This coupled with upcoming exams periods and academic pressures can create a perfect storm for some students.
We know that mental health services and support are especially critical over the coming months. With this in mind we spoke to 50 students, all from different universities, who were currently struggling with their mental health. We asked them about their support seeking behaviour at university and beyond and how they feel most comfortable connecting with services with a view to understanding how we could best offer support.
The Student Experience
The students we spoke to were struggling with a range of issues however 79% reported battling with depression, 68% stress, 66% low self esteem, 62% Loneliness, 62% sleep problems and 57% anxiety. Just under half (47%) of students disclosed that they struggled with suicidal feelings.
We have an extremely high suicide rate here (this year alone we’ve had 5 suicides, and it’s not even finals). (Student)
The majority of students (82%) said that their university was unaware that they w