Students and mental health

Monday, 7 February 2022

As the mental health conversation swiftly grows in normalization and awareness, it’s sometimes easy to forget positive mental health is still a relatively new topic to our vernacular. Many people, including young people and students, still harbour misconceptions and prejudices regarding the seriousness of poor mental health and the influence it can have on people’s lives.

According to a recent survey by Mental Health Foundation, more than one-third of the 15,000 university students surveyed in Scotland reported moderate to severe symptoms of depression, with nearly half of respondents desiring professional help.

Mental health problems are often connected with low-grade point averages; poor mental health and mental illness can inhibit perspective, energy, concentration, and optimism, all of which make it difficult to study.

This is a vicious circle where the difficulty in achieving the desired goals worsens the performances and the mental state of students.

More specifically, the university period is particularly demanding for young people, especially for those who leave their family home. Students are subjected to a lot of stress, starting from the need to look after themselves and at the same time achieve satisfying academic results.

Thousands of young people feel inadequate, stuck, or inhibited, comparing themselves with colleagues who seem to be going through the everyday obstacles much more smoothly than they are. Often, students feel shame and loneliness facing their own difficulties: they have the impression that everyone expects something different or better from them or that they are not doing enough.

“To face the university with serenity, a certain rooted mental balance is necessary.”

Marina, 23-year-old law student.

People affected by mental health issues are often ignorantly divided by society into “crazy” people and “weak” people: those who are irrecoverable and those who just need to pull themselves together.  

It should be obvious that mental health is more complicated than that, but often it is not.

EPIC Assist Charity Scotland offers a mental health awareness training workshop and a safe space to better understand the topic of mental health, from its symptoms to different conditions, as well as the tools to create a healthy and inclusive collaborative environment. EPIC tailors these workshops to each university and department, their specific needs, and individual circumstances.  

Let’s not think we are alone or inadequate. Let’s learn to understand what we are going through and how to face it in the best way.