Research lead by the University of Warwick found that financial worries and sleep difficulties are consistently associated with poor mental health in students.
The study is based on a survey, taken between July and September 2020, of 895 university students and 547 young adults who were not in higher education. Analysis showed several consistent factors linked to high levels of poor mental health at the end of the first lockdown in the UK. These factors included previous mental health conditions, carer status, financial worries and increased sleep irregularity and difficulty.
Dr Elaine Lockhart, Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said:
“While this research highlights the current pressures facing students’ wellbeing and mental health, it also highlights the need for continued support to mental health services in and outside university settings. With life returning to some degree of normality, students still face the worry of the pandemic and its economic consequences. Much like the pandemic, those set to suffer most from the cost-of-living crisis are also most likely to face significant mental health challenges. They deserve to get the support they need to navigate what will be a challenging time.
“Students must be able to access the services they need to thrive, whether that be accessing advice on their financial situation, academic success, social connections and lifestyle. However, those who develop more acute mental health problems must be able to access specialist services for diagnosis and evidence-based treatment.
"It is vital that the Government increases its efforts to coordinate between universities, NHS and mental health services to tackle the gaps in student mental health services and takes concrete steps to tackle the workforce crisis in mental health.”