Almost a third of UK university students have been diagnosed with a mental health condition

Sunday, 10th October 2021, 10:59 am
Updated Monday, 11th October 2021, 10:04 am

A survey of 1,000 university students commissioned by learning platform Kortext, found that more than one fifth are on medication and nearly a quarter have had to see a therapist or counsellor as a result of their mental health.

More than 4 in 10 said this meant that they were more likely to miss lectures, with a third worried about missing deadlines and a quarter fearing their mental health may ultimately lead them to drop out of their course entirely.

The research was commissioned by student learning and content platform Kortext, who since 2013 have been partnering with universities to connect students to the online delivery of their course, allowing them to access key course materials wherever they are, at no cost to the student.

New mental health support

The findings were revealed at the launch of a new mental health support partnership that Kortext announced, alongside leading charity Student Minds.

Kortext CEO James Gray said: “The Office for Students report that mental health was a significant concern in the recent National Student Survey scores.

“Our research findings are a stark reminder of how difficult the last two years have been for students, and it was clear to us that we must act as a sector to help protect and support the difference makers of tomorrow.

"Looking at students' engagement levels during lockdown, we could see trends which foretold a worrying upcoming mental health challenge. When students disengage from their studies, it's often an early warning sign of challenges that lie ahead. We want to work with universities and others to use this insight to support students at the precise moment when they need it.

"The first step was to dig deeper and find out from students themselves precisely what's happening right now. So, we ran a student survey asking questions about their current mental wellbeing."

The warning signs are there to be picked up on as 4 in 10 said their engagement in their course drops off as a direct result of their mental health suffering. In order to help combat this, 77% of students say they’d be happy for their universities to monitor their engagement more closely, and give extra, more tailored support if they noticed this was dropping.

As part of the Student Minds partnership, students using the Kortext platform for their key course materials will now be able to access the charity’s Student Space support centre of mental health resources and guidance.

Student Minds Clinical Advisor Dr Dominique Thompson added “Student mental health has been deteriorating at an alarming rate for many years, and these findings are deeply worrying.

“The pandemic has placed more stress on students than any generation has experienced in over seventy years, which is one of the reasons why they are far more likely than the national average to be diagnosed with a mental health condition.

“This has to be a tipping point for action.

“It’s vital that universities realise that they can better improve the wellbeing and engagement of their students by using the range of approaches at their disposal, including in-person support and technology.

“For example, Kortext is used by more than half of the UK’s 2.5m+ students, and thanks to this new partnership the Student Minds’ support services are now in the pockets of more than 1.3m students, wherever and whenever they need it.”

Alcohol and drug dependency

The Kortext research, undertaken by One Poll, was announced on World Mental Health Day, and also found that 43% say they often experience feelings of anxiety, with nearly a sixth (16%) saying they are more likely to depend upon drugs or alcohol when their mental health suffers.

James Gray, CEO of Kortext added: “ These headline figures are incredibly distressing and show instances of poor mental health that are way above national adult averages.

“It's clear that urgent collaborative action from universities, students, health professionals, parents, and the authorities needs to happen to solve this escalating issue, and we are committed to doing whatever we can to help.

“By making Student Minds’ award-winning mental health support accessible through our platform, it makes it easy for any UK student who feels they might be struggling to get help instantly, and we are proud to partner with such a forward-thinking charity.”