Young people are the focus of this year’s World Mental Health Day, with a particular spotlight being shone on the mental health ‘crisis’ unfolding in universities.
World Mental Health Day takes place on October 10 and the Mental Health Foundation is taking the opportunity to talk about the wellbeing of students. With the majority of mental health problems developing by the age of 24, university students are at high risk of issues including stress, depression and anxiety, due to the academic and social pressures they face.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, today’s students face unique concerns compared to students in the past, such as worries about unprecedented levels of debt and the pressures of social media. In 2015-16, more than 15,000 first-year students in UK universities reported that they had a mental health problem, compared to just 3,000 in 2006.
Unsurprisingly, 94% of higher education institutions have reported an increased demand for their counselling services, with further evidence to suggest there are many more students experiencing mental health issues who do not seek treatment. Poor mental health has been associated with poorer academic outcomes, with a 210% increase in university dropouts amongst students with mental health problems between 2009 and 2015 and, of even greater concern, a 79% rise in student suicides between 2007 and 2015.
In June the government announced a new package of measures, including a University Mental Health Charter and more support for students transitioning from school into university. But the Mental Health Foundation is calling for ‘a more proactive approach’ from the government, the NHS and universities themselves.
If you’re a parent with a student teenager away from home for the first time, this can be an extremely worrying time. The good news is that you can take steps to look after your son or daughter’s mental health with our family health insurance policies, the majority of which now cover mental health too. You’ve probably taken out contents or gadget insurance for your child as they settle into their new accommodation, and the right mental health cover can give you peace of mind that emotional support is there if they need it.
Health insurance has moved on a long way and is now flexible and affordable to match your family needs. Some of our insurance partners offer cover for stress, anxiety and depression as standard, whilst the majority of policies include additional options, such as mental health cover, that you can tailor depending on your circumstances.
If you’re worried about a young person or anyone you know, read our guide to spotting the signs of anxiety and depression. It might help to remember that young men are particularly unlikely to seek support for mental health issues at work, despite an increasing number of wellbeing schemes available.
The Mental Health Foundation is encouraging people to join their ‘Tea & Talk’ national fundraising event on October 10, or to hold an event at a time to suit them. To get support, visit the Foundation’s help page for useful websites and numbers.