National survey finds nearly 70 per cent of university and Tafe students describe their mental health as poor or fair

Safe-proof your home against mental health.
Safe-proof your home against mental health.

UNIVERSITY and Tafe students are stressed and anxious, with nearly 70 per cent describing their mental health as poor or fair, according to a new survey.

Headspace and the National Union of Students ran one of the biggest national student surveys into mental health and released preliminary findings on April 6.

More than 35 per cent reported thoughts of self-harm or suicide and 83.2 per cent felt stressed.

Curtin Student Guild education vice-president Jordan Piggott said a large proportion of WA’s respondents to the survey attended Curtin University but that mental wellbeing was an important issue across every campus nationally.

“We believe there are significant issues with mental wellbeing among the student population, and with WA contributing over 1000 responses to this survey, these results should be of great concern to university communities in the State.”

Curtin University’s deputy vice-chancellor academic Jill Downie said research showed higher levels of mental distress in university students than the general population.

Studies conducted by the university in 2009 and 2013 showed staff and students tended to hide their problems for fear of stigma and discrimination. The university then created a Mental Health Strategy to offer greater support and encourage people to seek help.

The Bentley campus has 30,000 members and the Guild offers free caseworkers to people whose studies are being affected by personal, financial or academic issues.

But Mr Piggott from the Guild said more could be done.

“The university is increasing their footprint with a vision of becoming their own city, but while this development is underway, students are still waiting too long to access service,” he said.

“At the same time, higher education funding is kicked around like a political football and federal funding arrangements force public universities to operate like businesses.”

South Metropolitan Tafe declined to comment on the findings.

The full report is due out before the end of the financial year.

Headspace has 99 centres across the nation, plus the online and over-the-phone counselling service, www.eheadspace.org.au or call 18000 650 890.

Lifeline can also be contacted on 13 11 14 if people are distressed.

HEADSPACE TIPS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

Manage study stress:

Balance your study plan with other important things in your life.

Talk to employers about limiting shifts while studying.

Create a comfortable, well-lit study space with no distractions.

Fill up on nutritious snacks so you don’t study hungry.

Stay socially connected:

Remember to exercise each day for focus and energy.

Spend time doing fun things.

Self-care is really important when there is a big demand in your life.

Plan a catch-up with a friend or get involved in a local group activity.

Avoid alcohol and other drugs:

Alcohol and other drugs can increase feelings of anxiety and stress and make you more tired and less focused.