Research commissioned by UniHealth, the country’s first health and wellbeing messaging platform for students, reveals that while 82% of students admit experiencing stress and anxiety, only 25% would seek help for it.
In a survey of over 1,000 first and second year university students, 82% admit to experiencing stress and anxiety and almost half (45%) have feelings of depression.
Worryingly, a massive three quarters of students admit they don’t ask for help because they’re embarrassed, they don’t know where to find it or they think it’s a waste of time. Highlighting the need for a more accessible support system, nearly a third (28%) would prefer to receive advice from a private message sent directly to their smartphone via a messaging app.
Dr Dominique Thompson, an in-house university GP said: “Being able to manage stress, eat healthily, make new friends and sleep well are vital, not only for student wellbeing but great academic outcomes. As the research suggests, many students shy away from getting help, so it’s crucial universities consider how they can offer different support services that fit with their students’ lifestyles, and digital is one of the answers.”
Earlier this year it was reported that more students than ever are dropping out of university due to mental health problems. On average, every student who drops out costs a university £33,000.
UniHealth found over three quarters (76%) of students believe more wellbeing support from their university, support to help fit into ‘university life’ and ways to talk about their unhappiness would stop them from dropping out of studies.
With A-Level results now in, and more than half a million applications to UK universities made this year, institutions are preparing to welcome the next wave of freshers. Making friends, doing well on their course, cooking, money and feeling under pressure to take drugs were the top five biggest worries for students starting university – a third of which didn’t feel supported by their institution ahead of freshers’ week.
‘We know that wellbeing support helps a huge number of students through university life and prevents them dropping out,” said Daphne Metland, Director at UniHealth.
“However, we’re also aware it’s unrealistic to ask universities to provide 24/7 face to face support, nor do all students want to receive advice in this way. The majority of students starting university now are digital natives, communicating mostly via their smartphone. Messaging programmes delivered on Facebook Messenger offer private 24/7 messaging support and can cover a range of topics from mental wellbeing and resilience to sexual health and contraception. A digital solution means students can get the help they require, when and where they need it.”
UniHealth is currently available in beta; the results of how the messaging programme supports students
The full UniHealth report ‘Upwardly mobile: Can phone messaging plug the gap in student mental health support?’ can be found here.