It is no surprise that student mental health is something which needs to be taken extremely seriously- it affects not only their mental well-being but also their learning, resulting in drop-outs and failed assignments. Negative mental health is unfortunately very common and concerning in university students- as recent studies reveal that over 1 in 10 students have suicidal thoughts.
Mental health regarding students is rarely spoken about however it is a serious issue in the UK with a huge 92% of students feeling slight to severe mental distress and 30,000 young people experiencing an anxiety disorder. So why are students not seeking help? According to survey conducted by the NUS (National Union of Students), cited in the Guardian (2015), More than half of those who took part in the survey and reported having experienced mental health problems said they did not seek support. A third said they would not know where to get mental health support from at their college or university if they needed it, while 40% reported being nervous about the support they would receive from their institution. Another factor resulting in students shying away from traditional methods is that a lot of teenagers aren't willing to accept they are experiencing a mental health issue and do not feel they are at that point in severity in which treatment is needed.
Yet, with one third of students having considered suicide by the age of 16, it is so important to ensure students feel stable during a particularly vulnerable age. Education is so important in life. It gives you the ability to build the skills to progress in whichever career you choose and it is the foundation of building a life. As such, it can put students under a lot of pressure. 1 in 6 students will actually experience panic attacks. Although measures are being taken to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, there are still significant factors that need to be addressed.
With student stress increasing yet with the majority of people refusing to seek treatment,
individuals have recently begun to explore alternative options in comparison to visiting their university therapist or support team. Some students have resulted in turning to technology to feel the benefits of improved mental health. Mobile mental health has allowed the public, doctors and even researchers new ways to assist their (patients) mental health. This includes monitoring progress, access to helplines, stress relieving applications and further understanding of mental wellbeing through websites and social media. There are a variety apps which have been suggested to improve mental health. These range from mindfulness apps, quote apps, support forums and apps allowing you to contact a professional.
Should students turn to their mobile phones for support?- Here are some of the benefits.
Convenience: Individuals, especially those within university age ranges, tend to have their mobile phones with them constantly and therefore if one was feeling stressed or down and they could easily access support simply from taking their phone out of their pocket- this would be a huge benefit. Help is with you at all times.
24/7: The majority of psychiatrists/psychologists will work normal working hours (monday-friday, 9-5). You would also need to book appointments if they are needed. However, if you are feeling particularly stressed or anxious in the evening or there are no available spaces for days- you can access help and support instantly, anytime of the day.
Anonymous: Within an app, your identity can remain anonymous, there is no need to fill out forms or speak to somebody about your problems face to face (which some may find difficult)
Available to more people: There are numerous reasons why students do not typically receive help from professionals including price, availability, those living in rural area's and more. Apps are available for everybody to use, no matter their location, income and severity etc.
Cheaper: Traditionally, visiting a therapist costs between £40-£100 per session (imagine the cost of one session per week) however apps cost a lot more- even if there is a subscription involved. Something that works won't usually be free.
As prior stated, there are numerous benefits to using technology to improve your mental well-being however there are also a few cons. These include:
Effectiveness: Though some apps state they 'really do work', the effectiveness of them is not necessarily proven. If you are going to try an app, at least ensure the techniques within the app are clinically proven to reduce your symptoms.
Privacy: Apps monitoring mental health usually contain sensitive and personal information. Ensure any mental health apps you download protect your privacy.
It is definitely worth giving technology a go in regards of mental health resilience however it is still recommended to visit your GP if you are getting worse or experience an increase in severity.