Empowering Students in the Age of Anxiety

With COVID nearly in the rear-view mirror, higher education institutions are now faced with addressing the variety of mental health issues inflicted upon students.

In fact, 25 percent of students are beginning their higher education career with preexisting mental health issues and more than 40% of students have experienced a serious psychological issue according to a  report by Dig-In and The Insight Network.

In January 2021, 63% of students said their mental health had worsened since the start of the academic year. Due to these startling statistics, conversations surrounding mental health, particularly anxiety and depression, have been on the rise in higher education settings, and the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted, bolded, and underscored the necessity of these discussions and the call for action. 

Higher education is not simply in the business of equipping students with vital knowledge and skills to enter the workforce, but also aims to empower students to embrace the future and overcome its inevitable challenges. So, what does empowering students to tackle mental health issues look like?

Uni Compare, an organization dedicated to assisting students with their unique academic journey, recently published an informative mental health guide to help students navigate preliminary mental health questions and provide a working foundation for mental health awareness in themselves and others. The guide explores mental health in the university setting, demonstrates how to identify potentially harmful patterns, suggests ways to help manage mental health, and connects students with vital resources and next steps. 

The guide is sectioned intuitively, meant to flow with the natural progression of questioning that may arise as students interact with the information. The sections are: 

  • Understanding mental health at university 
  • Managing your mental health and anxiety 
  • Getting help for anxiety 
  • Helping other students with anxiety 
  • Useful links

It begins by highlighting the importance for students to understand the basics of mental health, that it is something that affects most people at some point. Students may already feel isolated as they encounter the numerous changes that university life brings.

Arming students with basic facts about the prevalence of mental health can help them feel less alone. The guide goes on to outline the ways in which students can proactively care for their mental health and well-being, providing tips for managing anxiety and ways to improve quality of life. The following section addresses what to do when self-regulation isn’t enough and discusses the points of access to additional help and care on campus. The guide also dedicates a section on how to notice warning signs for friends and classmates who may be struggling with mental health issues and what to do to best support others.  

Students need to know that their higher education entity is there to support them. All universities have provisions in place to protect students’ mental health and support them through various challenges that may arise throughout their higher education career, but students often don’t know where to begin to get the help they need. Access to a simple and effective guide is one way to empower students to take charge of their well-being while pursuing their academic and professional goals.