Three quarters of university students experience stress and anxiety

More than three quarters of students in Northern Ireland admitted not asking for help

THREE quarters of university students in Northern Ireland experience stress and anxiety and almost a third have feelings of depression, a new report has found.

Almost eight in 10 students admitted they did not ask for help because they were embarrassed, did not know where to find it or thought it was a waste of time.

The report is published today by UniHealth, a health and wellbeing messaging programme for students.

Starting university, the report read, was a challenging time for students in Britain and Northern Ireland, with many leaving home and starting to live independently for the first time.

For many the transition was not easy leading to stress and anxiety, it added.

More than eight in 10 said they believed more wellbeing support from their university, support to help fit into university life and ways to talk about their unhappiness would stop them from dropping out of studies.

Making friends, cooking for themselves, money and doing well on their course were the top worries for students when starting university.

About 20 per cent said they would prefer to receive support via private messages sent through social media.

Dr Dominique Thompson, an in-house university GP, said being able to manage stress, eat healthily, make new friends and sleep well were vital for student wellbeing and academic outcomes.

"As the research suggests, many students shy away from getting help, so it's crucial universities consider how they can offer different support services that fit with their students' lifestyles, and digital is one of the answers," she said.

UniHealth director Daphne Metland said wellbeing support helped a huge number of students through university life and prevented them dropping out.

"However, we're also aware it's unrealistic to ask universities to provide 24/7 face to face support, nor do all students want to receive advice in this way," she said.

"The majority of students starting university now are digital natives, communicating mostly via their smartphone. Messaging programmes delivered on Facebook Messenger offer private 24/7 messaging support and can cover a range of topics from mental wellbeing and resilience to sexual health and contraception. A digital solution means students can get the help they require, when and where they need it."

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