In November 2022, we partnered with Alterline to conduct a nationwide survey of students, exploring their current mental health and wellbeing. The research findings show some positive improvements in key wellbeing measures, after notable drops during the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes more students reporting high life satisfaction compared to 2020/21, and fewer reporting low satisfaction. However, these levels have not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels, and other issues, such as the cost of living crisis, are also having detrimental effects on students’ wellbeing. Below, we highlight some of our key findings and share our thoughts on what must be done to support students.
Our findings demonstrate the scale of mental distress within the student population.
Over the last 18 months, we have consistently found that around one quarter of students have a diagnosed mental health issue. In this latest research, we also found that one third of students have poor mental wellbeing according to the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scales, and one third say their mental health has worsened since beginning university.
It is clear that a whole-university approach to mental health is vital in ensuring students are well-supported during their studies and are not held back by their mental health.
Students also continue to juggle several competing priorities.
Our findings show there is a clear risk of overwhelm and burn-out. Over half of respondents said they never or rarely have energy to spare, and increasing numbers reported feeling stressed about managing their time, money and juggling study with paid employment. At the same time, almost half of respondents said they had cut back on things they do for enjoyment to help with their financial situation, and a further one third said they are likely to need to in the coming months. This is a concerning finding given the important role that hobbies, social connections and relaxation play in supporting positive mental wellbeing.
For more information on our work around the cost of living and where you can find support at this challenging time, visit our Cost of Living Hub.
The government must act now.
We need the government to act now to lessen the financial pressure students are experiencing during the cost of living crisis. Student Minds is urging the government to increase maintenance loans in-line with actual inflation rates; to consider the re-introduction of maintenance grants for those most in need of financial support; and to ensure all policy measures are student-inclusive.
Our Chief Executive, Rosie, has also signed an open letter in collaboration with other mental health charities, calling on the Prime Minister to act with speed and compassion to tackle the root causes of destitution, to prevent suicide and an inevitable rise in mental ill health.
Further, Student Minds is joining organisations from across the mental health sector to support calls for the government to publish the ten year mental health plan they previously agreed to develop. We believe that a dedicated mental health plan, which focuses on both prevention and treatment, is vital in addressing mental illness and supporting good wellbeing.
For more information on the campaign to publish a ten-year mental health plan, visit Rethink Mental Illness’ campaigns page.
If you are a student in need of support, Student Space is here for you. Explore our resources and support, as well as our university support search tool to see what support is available at your institution.