People with mental health problems are individaul people – not just homogenous groups to be lumped together in poorly defined demographic groupings and in recent years we’ve seen the UK and global media discuss young people and students in two opposite narratives, sometimes as ‘generation snowflake’ and at other times as ‘vulnerable young people in crisis’.
Neither of these competing media and social-media-led narratives truly seem to appreciate the natural complexity of the problem and problems that people with mental health problems are facing, nor does it help students who are experiencing difficulties themselves.
This University Mental Health Day on 7 March 2019, we at Folkestone & District Mind are working hard to change the narrative around student mental health.
Within the UK, there are over 2.3 million students studying in our universities, and many (most?) of these students are experiencing a combination of academic, social and financial pressures.
University is hard enough, being in a new place, with new people, away from home and our familiar surroundings – and this can amplify a range of challenges to mental health and wellbeing in education: around one-third of students have been reporting clinical levels of psychological distress.
There have been an increasing number of students accessing support services, which is great to hear that they are reaching out for support, but we also need to look at whether the increase in need for support is people feeling able to reach out more or if it is an increase in the severity of distress and mental illness in young people?
We cannot stand proud of our academic excellence in this country when we have students leaving university due to mental health difficulties and, tragically the number of students who have died by suicide, we believe it does not need to be this way.
If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health problems and they live in the South East Kent area (Romney Marsh, Hythe, Folkestone, Dover, Deal) then contact Folkestone & District Mind and see how we can help support you.