The research, published on Sunday paints a stark picture of the crisis facing higher education students as they try to cope with student life after covid restrictions together with the cost of living crisis.
The study of 621 students found:
* 71 percent feel anxious about lectures and schoolwork
* 39 percent say textbooks are too expensive
* 34 percent cannot afford rent or housing costs
* 44 percent have trouble meeting new people and making friends
* 64 percent say they do not get enough sleep
* 54 percent struggle to practice healthy habits like fitness and healthy eating
The UK Student Behaviour Report, commissioned by the online learning platform – Chegg’s Center for Digital Learning, follows its earlier report which found nearly one-third (28 percent) of UK students felt their mental health had worsened since starting in or returning to university after lockdown restrictions were ended.
The research echoes a similar study last year which found the pandemic and associated lockdowns have had a lasting legacy on the mental health of the “Covid generation” of students, exacerbating rates of anxiety, depression and self-harm and resulting in a “significant rise” in young people struggling at university.
This survey of 7,385 students by the mental health charity Humen found that nearly half (47 percent) of students said mental health difficulties had a negative impact on their university experience, while a third said they didn’t know where to go to seek help.
Jennie Bristow senior lecturer in Sociology at Canterbury Christ Church University, and author of the Corna Generation, Coming of Age in a Crisis, which examined the impact of pandemic restrictions on students said:
“The mental health crisis among students predates the pandemic, but covid restrictions made the problem far worse by increasing the sense of isolation, loneliness fragmentation and uncertainty that students feel.
“During the pandemic students missed out on the very thing they had been sold. But by putting education online we broke the social contract around education.
“Many still default to watching a lecture recording instead of going in to watch which is increasing the sense of insularity and confusion among students.
“This also means students increasingly feel uncomfortable about being challenged or spending time with people who do not share their ideas, which in turn increases the likelihood of isolation and social anxiety that they feel.”
Dr Zenobia Storah, a senior clinical psychologist said: “These findings are yet another sad reflection of the poor mental health of our young people which had been on the rise over the last decade, but has escalated since 2020.
“Numerous studies have evidenced young adults’ mental health was disproportionately negatively impacted by the government response to the pandemic, which as we know interrupted their social, academic, and emotional development, isolating young people from families and peers, and subjecting them – along with the rest of the population – to a public health campaign that deliberately generated fear and anxiety….You cannot arrest young people’s lives and development and expect no consequences.
“Sadly for this generation, not only are many left emotionally vulnerable by these experiences, but now also face the additional stress of high living costs and overstretched mental health and support services.”