Student mental health is a growing concern. According to the mental health charity Mind, 1 in 5 students has a diagnosed mental health condition. And anxiety, depression, and suicidal feelings are the most common experiences.
So what should University leaders, faculty, or students be doing to support student mental health? In this blog post, we’ll outline the scale of the problem and suggest some digital tools that could help.
Tackling the problem of wellbeing often takes a holistic approach. And since there are a variety of digital tools available, students can tailor the help they need to manage negative thoughts and feelings in their own ways. Through a variety of behavioural and mood management techniques, there are ways that students can reduce the risks of developing a mental health condition and help themselves to thrive.
How Significant is Student Mental Health at University?
So what exactly is the scale of the problem for students? Here are a few points to consider:
- Over 60% of UK students say university life has a negative impact on their mental health. And in the same report, almost 40% said their mental wellbeing had worsened since starting university.
- A recent study by the University of Warwick found financial worries and sleep disturbances were the two biggest risk factors for student mental health.
- Nearly 50% of students do not disclose mental health conditions in UCAS applications for fear of stigmatisation.
According to Shout 85258–a round-the-clock mental health texting service–loneliness, relationships, workload, and financial worries are the most common concerns.
How do Mental Health Issues Affect University Students?
Mental health issues can have a debilitating impact for students in their university life. So here are a few ways this can play out.
Lack of Focus and Concentration
Experiencing depression can sometimes feel like a heavy weight is pulling you down. It’s an all-consuming condition that reduces the ability to feel positive or joyful emotions. And this heavy feeling can lead to disinterest and disillusionment with everyday life. For students, this can show up as an inability to follow through on work or to focus their attention on studying.
Trouble Connecting with Others
Low feelings or anxiety can inhibit students’ ability to feel comfortable in their own skin. And this can stop them from reaching out to others as they would. Anxiety also leads to isolation, which exacerbates these feelings. And when students are isolating themselves, this can lock them out from active participation in college life and group work.
Lower Rates of Progression or Continuation
Almost 50% of students have considered quitting their course due to mental health challenges, stress, loneliness or not feeling supported. And while many students will stay on to graduate with a degree, those with mental health challenges may struggle in the competitive graduate market.
Best Digital Tools Available to Support Student Mental Health
So which digital tools are available to support student mental health? Here’s our roundup:
Did you know that Caption.Ed is an effective tool for supporting student mental health?
By adding real-time captioning to all live broadcasts and pre-recorded video, Caption.Ed promotes better inclusivity and connection. Studies also show that adding captions helps students to focus better, which gives them a helping hand if they’re struggling, particularly with complex information.
But Caption.Ed will also encourage better connection between students when they add Caption.Ed to Zoom meetings. With captions added, all students, regardless of abilities, will have the chance to both read and listen to each other. And this will help them to overcome feelings of worry or anxiety.
There is also an option to support students sleeping patterns. By switching on dark mode to reduce the colour of their background screen, they’ll reduce the impact of screen time on their eyes and circadian rhythms.
UniWellbeing is a health tech company that’s dedicated to student mental health. They believe that maintaining student health and wellbeing is easier with good habit-forming. By offering students bite-sized learning and development opportunities, their platform is easy to use. They also run lively PR campaigns to maximize participation.
Already used by Falmouth, Loughborough, and the University of Exeter, UniWellbeing creates bespoke apps to help students develop regular well-being maintenance.
With proactive, early intervention, UniWellbeing believes its platform will support UK and US colleges students with creating lifelong positive habits that promote better wellbeing.
Healthcare, corporate, and Higher Education sectors use the Silvercloud platform to support wellbeing. For student mental health, they’re focused on helping depression, anxiety, stress, general resilience, and positive body image. And with an evidence-based platform that fits into your digital wellbeing strategy, they suggest the platform encourages high rates of clinical improvement in student mental health.
Silvercloud divides its programs into several tiered approaches ranging from behavioural change to a deeper understanding of students’ problems. And it’s used by several UK universities such as Edinburgh, Lancaster, and Durham.
Students can also get 24/7 support for issues such as improving sleep, reducing stress, and managing exam anxiety.
Most of us know how important sleep is. It’s needed to keep the immune system healthy, maintain gut health, and support emotional regulation.
Sleepio could be helpful for students who struggle to establish good sleep. It’s a tech platform focused on tackling insomnia and has approval from the NHS and NICE. Currently used by UCL and Oxford Universities, Sleepio builds bespoke sleep treatment plans and give students the chance to achieve better sleep. With their app technology in place, students could hope to achieve better sleep and overall wellbeing in as little as six weeks.
Mental Health and Relaxation Apps
Most students will come to university with a smartphone. So recommending apps is a simple way to encourage better habit forming and wellbeing management.
Some notable apps out there include:
- Happify: Based on CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), this app encourages positive psychology based on daily app use. Happify is particularly good for students who feel overwhelmed and want help to replace bad habits with positive daily ones.
- MindShift CBT: Also making use of CBT techniques, MindShift helps students to reduce anxiety, worry and alleviate moments of panic through evidence-based techniques.
- Stay Alive: Stay Alive is a UK-based suicide prevention app offering specific resources, help, and tools to help individuals who may be experiencing suicidal feelings.
- Breathe: Deep breathing is an integral component of meditation. And meditation is a proven technique to relax the body and nervous system.
- Calm: Calm is a popular app with a range of approaches to wellbeing that students can tailor to their specific needs. They focus on improving sleep, lowering anxiety, and reducing stress.
- Headspace: Another popular meditation app, Headspace promotes daily meditation techniques to encourage mindfulness and relaxation.
- Clockwork Tomato: This app divides work periods into 25-minute slots. Then it reminds students to take 5-minute breaks afterward. It’s based on the Pomodoro Technique and can help students to stay on track with positive study habits.
- Moodfit: Moodfit works on the basis of mood journaling by encouraging users to work towards daily goals. It offers tools and insights to promote gratitude and mindfulness.
- Cold Turkey: By making it easier to remove distractions, Cold Turkey can help students to stay focused and attentive.
- Notion: Out of all the project management apps, Notion offers great useability for students. Plus, it’s free for students and educators.
Unlock the Power of Captioning to Support Student Mental Health
Universities and colleges mustn’t ignore the impact of student mental health. And while it can be daunting to find the right tools to help, this guide will help you to make appropriate recommendations.
It’s also worth noting that feelings of loneliness and isolation can be magnified in students with disabilities or Specific Learning Differences. And if a university is unable or unwilling to match the needs of their students, they may expose students to higher risks of despondency and disengagement.
To ensure improved concentration, better participation, and a sense of support and appreciation from students, universities and colleges should look no further than Caption.Ed to meet their needs.
Discover the benefits of Caption.Ed on student mental health today and give it a free trial.