“Students do not have much choice other than having to balance work and school which triggers many mental health conditions” says Amy Austin Being a student means not only having to worry about studies as it also often involves moving out of home, experiencing independence for the first time, relationship troubles, working to pay bills, trying to fit in with friends and spending time with family and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Students go through a lot of pressure to do so much when there are simply not enough hours in a day. The mounting pressure often leads students to make bad decisions and many resort to alcohol and drugs, junk food, inactive lifestyle, and some even drop out of school.
Balancing student life and mental health can is not easy. In my own experience, throughout the time that I have been completing university, I have been married, divorced, survived through domestic violence, moved out of home for the first time, bought my first house and experienced true independence for the first time. These are huge milestones and during this time I found it extremely hard to keep up with the struggles of uni as well as working to be able to afford my lifestyle and pay my bills. I ended up deferring and taking some time off uni and started studying part-time.
I have now returned to full-time studies, however, I still experience some trouble when it comes to prioritizing self-care when juggling between my work and internship.
The unspoken challenges of Student life.
Arguably the biggest impact all of this has is on a student’s mental health. As per a Headspace and the National Union of Students survey (2017) close to 70 per cent of respondents rated their mental health as poor or fair, and two-thirds reported high or very high psychological distress in the past 12 months. This is a shockingly high amount.
Students are often the ones who experience high levels of stress, anxiety and depression. The reasons behind mounting stress and depression for students range from a variety of causes like high cost of living, having to work to afford basic necessities, and studying in the hope of one day having a career with a higher pay bracket.
For a full-time student, the amount the government is willing to pay is barely enough to cover rent/mortgage alone, not to mention food, petrol, electricity, other bills, and all of the other costs a person must cover. Students aren’t left with much choice other than having to balance work and school which is the trigger for many mental health conditions.
Below are the full survey results (Bennett, 2017). These numbers are terrifying but give a clear understanding of the reality of this situation.
Student life and Mental health Statistics.
The students surveyed said the following mental health issues impacted their studies:
Thoughts of self-harm or suicide: 35.4 per cent
Feeling stressed: 83.2 per cent
Lack of energy or motivation: 82.1 per cent
Feeling anxious: 79.0 per cent
Low mood: 75.8 per cent
Feelings of hopelessness/worthlessness: 59.2 per cent
The survey results shed light on a growing need for more support and awareness around mental health within the student community. The quality of student life can be improved in all parts across the globe if proper awareness is spread.
A collective effort from universities, financial aid authorities and the community at large can go a long way in making students feel supported and understood.
Amy is a Bachelor of Social Work Student at the University of Tasmania. She loves to get out and enjoy the world, go on adventures to waterfalls and spend time with her dogs. She also works in a young women’s shelter which provides support for young women aged 13-20 experiencing homelessness.