Female students who have financial difficulties have a higher risk of developing eating disorders than those who are comparatively economically comfortable, according to a new study.
This conclusion was reached following research by the University of Southampton and Solent NHS Trust, who carried out an assessment taken by 400 undergraduate students in universities nationwide.
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The classification for 'financial difficulties' in the survey included having to borrow money and being unable to afford heating, whilst the term 'eating disorder' encompassed such statements as "I feel extremely guilty after eating" and "I am preoccupied with a desire to be thinner".
Dr Thomas Richardson, the clinical psychologist leading the study, explained to the Independent: “It may be that those at higher risk of having an eating disorder feel like they have no control over events in their life, such as their financial situation, and they may then restrict their eating as a way of exercising control in other areas of their life."
Student Minds, a mental health charity, released a statement saying: "Students face a lot of pressures at university. Many are living independently for the first time, away from the core family unit, having to deal with loneliness, lack of sleep and managing finances among other things.
“We want to make sure the right support is in place to deal with health issues. We provide peer support networks as a confidential space for all students with trained volunteers. We look to integrate our support with the university support, as well as that of the NHS to make sharing these problems as easy as possible.”
Useful websites and helplines:
- Samaritans, open 24 hours a day, on 08457 90 90 90
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
- Young Minds offers information to young people about mental health and emotional wellbeing
- Students Against Depression, a website by students, for students.
- HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pmand 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41
- HeadMeds - a straight-talking website on mental health medication
- Student Minds supports students across the UK to bring about positive change on their campuses through campaigning and facilitating peer support programmes. To join the community or launch a student group contact the charity on firstname.lastname@example.org