Mayday, Mayday, Mayday: Behind the Mental Health Crisis Plaguing our Youth
Scrolling through the news today, it’s scarily common to come across stories of young people struggling with their mental health or dying by suicide. Whether they come from the US, Europe or Asia, these individual stories represent a collective cry for help. In a US study, half of young people aged 18-24 are reported to experience moderate or severe depression. In England, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were at least 319 suicides at universities and higher education colleges over a four year period. Meanwhile, UNICEF shares that nine million youths in Europe are living with mental health disorders, with anxiety and depression accounting for more than half of the cases.
The university experience is often portrayed as the best years of a person’s life - young adults going to live on their own, making new friends and gaining valuable experiences, without the burden of adulthood. While this may be true, it only accounts for half the story. The other half of the story, the less-talked about half, shows students struggling to juggle living with:
So, is it any wonder really that students are struggling with their mental health?
Awareness is the first step
The good news is that governments, organisations and citizens are now starting to be aware of the extent of this crisis and are actively calling for action.
The UK’s National Union of Students has called on universities and the government to support vulnerable students and “put protections in place to prevent thousands more reaching crisis point.” In December 2021, the Office of the U.S Surgeon General released an advisory (which are typically reserved for significant public health issues) regarding youth mental health. The Ministry of Health of Greece and WHO/Europe also launched a new programme to support the quality of mental health care of youth in all 53 countries of the WHO European Region.
As these steps are being taken to address youth mental health, we must also be conscious of the current barriers that are preventing our youth from seeking help. Studies have shown that about a third of students who are in need of mental health do not receive any mental health treatment at all. Some of these barriers include:
At StudentPulse, we feel a responsibility to be part of the solution. As we worked with universities across Europe, we saw firsthand that when mental health services are offered to students, up to 20% of students surveyed will choose to take it. This is not an insignificant number and it signals to us that we need to reach out to students, listen to what they are trying to tell us and offer them timely support and resources should they need them.
As StudentPulse combines microsurveys with real-time data analytics to get a better understanding of students’ needs, educational institutions can survey their students at regular intervals and depending on the answer they provide, automatically connect students to the appropriate resource. This allows students to get help on an individual level, at the exact time when help is needed. Imagine a student struggling with social and emotional pressures to maintain perfect grades. Being able to indicate that they urgently need help and be directed to a counsellor in real-time will go a long way in protecting their mental well-being.
We truly believe that being able to connect with students and offer them help will play a role in turning the tide of this mental health crisis. No young person should ever have to struggle alone or contemplate suicide. To learn more about StudentPulse and how we can collaborate to combat the youth mental health crisis, feel free to reach out to our team today.