By E. H.
Welcome to our new Mental Health Blog Series!
During the next nine weeks, we will explore a number of topics on some of the mental health issues affecting students across the world.
Mental health plays a vital role in students’ wellbeing, contributing to increasing confidence and academic performance and establishing the foundations for a well-adjusted and emotionally stable life. However, for a long time the subject went unnoticed. In fact, due to their ‘invisible’ nature, struggles related to mental health have been often overlooked, or worse, stigmatised.
Young people who enter university are likely to find themselves living away from home for the first time, and the separation from their family, combined with the pressures of academic life, puts them in a vulnerable position. Universities have made attempts to address the mental health needs of their students by offering counselling services, but these often require long waiting-periods, during which conditions can quickly and easily deteriorate.
Samira Shackle wrote a long piece for The Guardian about a surge in anxiety and depression amongst the student population, resulting in increased dropout rates and an alarming number of suicides. The increase in dropout rates and suicides raised awareness of the mental health crisis sweeping across UK universities, but was important for all universities to consider.
There are many interlacing factors to the mental health problem at universities (illustrated by Samia Shackle), including budget cuts to public services, a stagnating job market, the recent spike in student fees, the prohibitive living costs and universities’ inadequate investment in mental health services. These conditions have been dramatically exacerbated by the isolation and seclusion enforced as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The aim of this series is therefore, to dive deeper into some of the most common mental health issues affecting students, providing resources and practical tips to successfully cope with anxiety and stress generated by a number of factors. Although we do not mean for this series to be exhaustive, we hope these articles will contribute to the ongoing conversation about mental health at university and provide support and guidance to students struggling with some of these problems. The list below offers a brief overview of what to expect in the upcoming weeks and the themes we will explore throughout the series.
Additional news articles on mental health that may be of interest: 1. Student mental health: 'I am living in a bubble of one' by Dan Johnson & Clair Kendall (BBC)
2. 'I just sat in my room all day': lonely students seek mental health support by The Guardian
3. 'The student mental health crisis' by the BBC
4. Students feel vulnerable': how Covid-19 has put a strain on mental health’ by The Guardian
5. ‘Confining students in halls is a mental health crisis in the making’ by The Guardian
E. H. was a PhD student in Classical Languages and Literature at the University of Oxford. She received an MA from the University of Florence and her research interest revolve around issues of representation in Latin poetry.