It’s no surprise – the pressures that students are facing nowadays are hard. Not only do students have to focus on studying for exams, there’s the social aspect to keep up with too – as well as any other responsibilities they may have,including earning enough money to support their studies. And for higher education students, making that move to university can be very exciting, but for many it’s also hugely challenging.
All this stress is having a major impact on students’ learning with high drop out rates and failed assignments. So, what can be done to ensure students are emotionally supported? What do you do when you can’t afford therapy but you’re struggling to handle your mental illness alone? Let’s take a look at how technology is helping support student mental health.
The facts on student mental health
Mental health among students is rarely spoken about – but it’s a serious issue in the UK with a staggering 92% of students feeling slight to severe mental distress according to research carried out by mental health app Thrive.
- School stress is the main cause of depression among young people
- 1 in 6 students experience panic attacks
- 300,000 young people have an anxiety disorder
- A third of students have considered suicide by the age of 16
So, why are students not seeking help?
According to a survey conducted by the NUS (National Union of Students), cited in the Guardian (2015), over 50% of those who experienced mental health problems said they did not seek support. A third said they wouldn’t know where to get mental health support at their college or university, while 40%reported being nervous about the support they would receive.
Another factor resulting in students shying away from traditional therapy is that a lot of teenagers aren’t willing to accept that they’re experiencing a mental health issue. Some don’t feel like their condition is severe enough to seek help. But by the time you wait until it is severe enough,it’ll be even harder to treat.
Alternative mental health treatments
With students shunning traditional treatment methods, they’re turning to technology to explore alternative therapy techniques.
Technology has allowed the public, doctors and researchers new ways to assist with mental health therapy. This includes monitoring progress through tech, access to online helplines and stress relieving apps. Although there’s still a long way to go, websites and social media have also helped to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and furthered people’s understanding of good emotional wellbeing.
Although technology shouldn’t replace face-to-face treatment, some tech is a way to provide tools and alternative options to enhance your care.
3 ways students can boost their mental health with technology
Online support networks
If you feel more comfortable chatting anonymously, “online support groups can be useful for young people who perhaps aren’t ready to talk to someone they know,” says a spokesperson from eating disorder charity Beat. It’s a safe way to vent how you’re feeling without having to go somewhere, pay anything or sit in a waiting list. And there’s often forums where you can share your experiences with others, as well as chat to a person one-on-one.
The internet offers tons of information,which can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to look. Although talking is great therapy, practising self-care is paramount for mental health recovery.National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) says that “to be able to care for the people you love, you must first take care of yourself.” So, have a look what’s out there. For example, mental health charity Mind has a library of self-care guides to walk you through caring for your own conditions.
Mental health apps
A 2018 report highlights that 95% of people aged 16-24 own a smartphone. So, it’s no wonder mobile technology offers a huge platform through which students can take control of their own mental health. There’s a variety of 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.
What are the benefits of mental health apps for students?
- Convenience: If you’re feeling down or stressed out, you can easily access support just by taking your phone out of your pocket – help is with you whenever and wherever.
- 24/7: Therapists typically work Monday-Friday, 9-5, and you need to schedule an appointment. But websites and apps can offer instant support anytime of day.
- Anonymous: Within an app, you don’t need to reveal your identity – so you can feel comfortable and safe.
- Accessible: What do you do if you can’t afford traditional therapy? What about if you live far away from these services? Apps are available to everyone, no matter your location, income or severity of your condition.
- Cost: A therapist might cost between £40-100 per session and you’d have maybe 1 per week. Even if there’s a subscription for an app, this works out a lot cheaper!
Things to consider when choosing mental health apps
There’s a couple of important things to ask yourself when you download an app designed to help you with your mental health.
- 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.
There are a few apps which follow the relevant guidelines and have shown benefits towards improvement of mental health conditions, such as stress, anxiety and mild depression. Our friends have developed an award-winning NHS-assured app called Thrive: Feel Stress Free. Mental health apps can be beneficial, especially when used alongside typical treatment before the condition has become too severe – but also for everyone who wants to take care of their mental wellbeing.
Take control of your mental health
It’s definitely worth giving technology a go in regards of mental health resilience. But, it’s still recommended to visit your GP if you are getting worse or experience an increase in severity. With the Evergreen Life app, you can manage your mental health easily by booking appointments online if you need one.
Take control of your health with Evergreen Life. Download the app today.