These factors are contributing to poor student wellbeing
There are many factors that cause poor student wellbeing. Every individual and situation is unique.
However there are a number of factors that are responsible for the majority of problems students present with at university health services, that are also applicable to the vocational sector.
Here are the top five factors experts say are causing many poor student wellbeing problems.
Sleep deprivation is a huge problem in tertiary education. Experts say nearly everyone who has mental health problems experiences sleep deprivation either because of their problem, or it is causing their problem. Research conducted by leading sleep scientist Danny Eckert shows that staying awake for 24 hours is the equivalent of having a blood alcohol level of 0.1 (or drinking eight beers in three hours). A week of 4-5 hours sleep a night results in the same level of impairment.
A lack of connection with peers, friends and family is common. The structure of tertiary learning in universities for example means that students (and particularly international students whose traditional support networks are located in other countries) can find it hard to connect with other students and fall into an isolation pattern. This is a particular risk during the current pandemic. This can lead to a lack of connectedness and eventually a resultant increase in mental health issues.
Many students are suffering under the burden of parental expectations. This can lead to students pursuing studies because their parents are interested in them - or pursuing results to please parents - rather than meeting their own individual needs and pursuing their own interests. This can lead to a common scenario of students doing one degree or course for their parents and one for themselves.
The living situation among student cohorts varies greatly. There have been cases where students had been living out of vans or couch surfing simply in order to stay afloat, leading to a lack of security and significant levels of ongoing stress. Often, students also live in quite cramped conditions in their chosen accommodation and are forced to sacrifice their privacy, comfort and dignity.
Linked to this is a student’s financial situation. Students who are struggling with basic costs like accommodation and ongoing tuition fees are more likely to experience mental health issues. In some cases students reduce their spending on health essentials like food; because they don’t eat as often or as well, their overall health and wellbeing suffer causing larger problems.
Education providers can respond to these issues with a much more robust approach to student welfare. Supported by their Student Management System and other integrated systems and services, providers are able to check-in with their students regularly and provide readily available student support like counselling or even emergency in-person responses to prevent suicide. Through a systemised approach to engagement and support, providers are more likely to ensure that a student doesn’t inadvertently ‘slip through the cracks’ and gets the support they need.