Top 5 Factors Affecting Student Mental Health Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Whilst daily workloads and exam pressure have been lifted, students everywhere are facing a whole new wave of stress-inducing factors.

  • There are 2 million students in higher education in the UK, 23% are international students, most of whom are unable to return home due to travel restrictions in place
  • Globally, 1 in 5 students already suffer with a mental health issue, depression and anxiety are the top two offenders
  • 1 in 3 uni students has experienced an issue for which they felt the need for professional help

Fresh Student Living provide insights on concerns they have been asked about, including the most common factors that can be affecting mental health amongst the younger generation:

1. HEALTH & SOCIAL DISTANCING

Along with the overwhelming worry of contracting COVID-19, students living on campus have become anxious not only about the state of their own personal health but also that of their family members who they are unable to visit and care for.

Up until March 17, around 46% of 18-24 year-olds were going outside as usual during the coronavirus outbreak, but with the latest lockdown measures put into place across the UK, more people have started to take self-isolation seriously. International students are especially concerned about returning home and potentially putting their loved ones at risk.

2. ISOLATION-INDUCED LONELINESS

Prior to COVID-19 outbreak, an average of 82% of UK university students admit to feeling lonely. With the social distancing measures currently put in place, it’s likely that the feeling of loneliness will be heightened. As per government advice, most students have been asked to stay in their student accommodation rather than travelling, worst affecting those who cannot return home to family and are left alone in their student accommodation.

3. ACCOMODATION

Fresh Student Living have revealed that all their buildings remain open, with a large number of students choosing to remain in their university living environment. Reception/concierge services are still running but in order to comply with social distancing measures, the 2m rule must be met with fellow residents and staff at all times, alongside regular handwashing. All social spaces have been closed including gyms, however online fitness classes by Les Mills are on offer as an alternative.

4. FINANCES

The most popular part-time jobs for students include retail, catering and babysitting, all of which are not viable job options right now. With their ‘extra income’ cut down, many students are worried about their finances – their student loan in particular being a big question mark. Fresh Student Living have confirmed with Student Loans Company that they are following their standard process for tuition and maintenance payments and the third semester payment should not be affected at this time.

5. FUTURE EMPLOYMENT

Seven in ten 18-24-year-olds feel anxious about finding employment post-graduation and their ability to earn money in the near future due to the COVID-19 epidemic. International students will experience this more so due to the 4-month post-graduation deadline to find a job if they wish to remain in the UK. At this time, where it seems little can be done in terms of getting a head start on kickstarting their career, improving ‘soft skills’ may prove to be more useful.

Soft skills include those in the creative, adaptability and persuasion realm and have been revealed to be valued above hard skills by 57% of senior leaders. Free online courses and webinars on learning presentation techniques, languages, creative software are more relevant than ever.

LOOKING FOR SUPPORT?

If you’re struggling with feelings of depression, anxiety or isolation at uni, speak to your campus counsellor or reach out to a student support group. If you’d prefer to keep things anonymous, here are some useful resources for you:

Student Minds – Corona-related support for students.

Anxiety UK – Support for those diagnosed with anxiety

Mental Health Foundation – Support and info on mental health problems

No Panic – Support for those affected by panic attacks and OCD

  • Phone: 0844 967 4848
  • Youth Helpline: 0330 606 1174
  • Website: nopanic.org.uk

Papyrus – Young suicide prevention society

Samaritans – Support for those experiencing feelings of despair or depression

YoungMinds – Information on child and adolescent mental health

  • Phone: Parent’s helpline – 0808 802 5544
  • Young adults: Text YM to 85258
  • Website: youngminds.org.uk