Often removed from their previous support networks, forming identities and dealing with change, university students continue to be a group where mental wellbeing monitoring and interventions are needed.
This is a large scale study of the prevalence of mental health, in self-selecting students, conducted by a private healthcare team of therapists and psychiatrists that work within the field of mental health and wellbeing. Quantitative data was collected from over 37,500 students from 140 universities across the UK, in all years of study, including applicants due to commence university in 2018. The online survey comprised of six demographic questions, eleven core questions about mental health, and five conditional follow up questions. Participants were allowed to pass questions that they did not want to answer.
57.2% of respondents were female.
37.5% of respondents were international students.
70.3% of respondents were white.
33.9% of respondents had experienced a serious personal, emotional, behavioural or mental health problem for which they needed professional help in the past
21.5% had received at least one mental health diagnosis in the past
There was a statistically significant difference between international students and UK students, with international students being less likely to report a prior mental health diagnosis.
Reported findings amongst all students:
42.8% were often or always worried
87.7% had struggled with feelings of anxiety, an increase of 18.7% from 2017
33.0% reported that they often or always felt lonely
20.5% reported that they were never or rarely lonely
44.7% admitted to using alcohol or drugs to cope with problems in their life
9.5% stated that they did this often or always
6.9% reported using drugs or alcohol in order to be able to fall asleep at night
50.3% reported some thoughts of self-harm, an increase of 26% from 2017
Second- and third-year students had a statistically significant difference in risk from first years, with more feelings of worry and loneliness, substance misuse for coping, and thoughts of self-harm.
80.1% were aware of the support service options provided by their university.
10.2% reported that they had used university support services
The increase in percentages for anxiety and self-harm are worrying and highlight the need for further research into mental wellbeing monitoring and intervention.