The Worsening Mental Health Crisis for StudentsBazaar Mindmarket | Published: 28th May 2021
This past year mental health amongst students has skyrocketed, with COVID-19 restrictions making students unable to access the support and help they need whilst locked away in halls, it is no surprise that self-harm and suicide rates have increased. Under the ever-mounting pressures of being a student, meeting deadlines, submitting work during the pandemic, it is no surprise that for students that poor mental health is now, more than ever a pandemic in itself.
Many students were told that they could not leave their halls of residents when COVID-19 hit, this meant that they couldn’t go home to be with loved ones in such an uncertain time. This resulted in increased isolation, anxiety, and loneliness. They were trapped like many of us were during the pandemic. Another issue that arose was that due to lockdown, well-being services could not be reached or were forced to shut due to the pandemic. This left students unable to access the support that they needed. Alongside this, another issue is that a lot of places offering help and support now are in clinically focused settings which can be quite anxiety provoking for students. This is why it is important for people to be aware of other mental health and wellbeing services that are not in clinical settings, places that you can self-refer to, with no waiting list and that feel warm, welcoming and safe.
Due to many services being closed or doing their appointments virtually, many people who would usually seek care have been unable to or reluctant to due to COVID-19 which has resulted in a rise of people seeking crisis care. Due to this, there has been a rise in the downloading of mental health apps. One of the benefits of technology is that we have a plethora of mental health apps available at our fingertips. A lot of students are turning to apps such as Headspace, Wysa, Calm and Stay Alive because they can’t access the right support that they need now. These apps may not be the answer to the issues the person accessing might have, but it is something that is instant and can hopefully help someone in their moment of crisis, especially if they are waiting to be able to access services for their mental health.
Currently, most universities only offer 6 weeks of talking therapy if a student is in a crisis. Although this is useful, some students may prefer to engage in more proactive forms of therapy so that they can build new techniques that allow them to deal with conflict in the future. There is currently a huge demand for universities to re-design their mental health services so that they are more engaging for students. More dynamic and creative methods need to be considered when offering mental health interventions to students in order to break the stigma, shape change and meet the demand of those needing support.
By Hannah Bryan