The UK’s easing of lockdown restrictions is now into stage two, but one date that is still missing from the Government’s roadmap is the return of university students – graduates and postgraduate – to campus.
Although students have returned to school, remote learning remains in place at universities across the UK and there is currently no fixed date on when face-to-face teaching will resume.
Sadly, concerns are growing that the continued uncertainty is causing additional stress and anxiety for many students in higher education. The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey of higher education students in England found 63% of respondents said their wellbeing and mental health had worsened since the start of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the body UUK (Universities UK) says its members are “plugging the gaps” for NHS mental health services and is calling on the government to provide much-needed funding for university mental health support services to the meet growing levels of demand.
On top of that, new figures show that mental health problems for postgraduates could be even more acute. A global study of PhD students found they are x6 more likely than the general population to suffer from depression and anxiety.
One of the major differences between undergraduate and postgraduate degrees is the level of independent working. At a PhD level, research students in particular face significant amounts of time on their own and this can be difficult for some people to adjust to.
Students have also had to deal with all the stresses that come from being in a global pandemic, so it is easy to understand why postgraduates may be struggling more than most in the current circumstances.
Spotlight on mental health
The good news is that students’ mental health is increasingly under the spotlight and this is helping to ensure that more help is made available to anyone that needs it.
Thankfully, a lot of students may find their university has support services in place, with access to welfare advisers, counsellors and other qualified mental health practitioners.
Some universities also offer courses and session on things like mindfulness, nutrition and sleep which can all help towards improving people’s general well-being.
For anyone who is experiencing mental health difficulties while studying and wants to talk to someone then Student Minds, in partnership with the charity Mind, offers a variety of support to students.
The most important thing to remember is that there is help out there and by talking to someone things can get better.
 Mental health: more support needed for postgraduate students, The Guardian