Student Mental Health Crisis
The epidemic of poor mental health has swept the Western world over recent years and left no demographic untouched.
University students have been one of the hardest-hit demographics when it comes to their mental health with rates of student depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders and suicidal ideation continuing to surge.
Many sufferers experiencing their first symptoms between the ages of 16 and 24
More than a quarter of students reported having a mental health problem of one type or another, making day to day life difficult for hundreds of thousands of students.
Depression and anxiety are by far the most common reported mental health issues
Of those who suffer, 77% have depression-related problems, and 74% have anxiety related problems.
Female students are more likely to say they have mental health problems than males (34% vs 19%), and LGBT students have a particularly high likelihood of mental health problems, compared to their heterosexual counterparts (45% vs 22%).
The primary cause of stress among students is workload demands, finances, finding a job after university and social connections.
Professors are often famed for their academic rigour, pursuit of intellectual growth and reputations for ground breaking research, and could worry that the addition of ‘emotional education’ to their offering will dampen the perceived value.
For PhD student’s the prevalence of mental illness increases six times
The nature of doctorate research projects and working alone for prolonged periods, with high workload demands, requires a quality of mentorship from supervisors to include emotional education.
Universities could be heading towards a mental health crisis, with limited resources and more students recognising they need help.
97% of UK students felt they would benefit from emotional education and 65% said it could protect them from encountering mental illness and help them to better understand how to take care of themselves and each other.
University counselling services are struggling to cope with growing demand
Governments have tried stemming the problem through research funding, public health initiatives and investing in talking therapies.
But, instead of parking the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, we need to get to the root of the problems and prevent people from becoming unwell.
Equipping young people with the knowledge they need to manage their wellbeing is essential
Yet, statistics continue to move in the wrong direction and the grapple with mental illness has more to do with a gap in our emotional education than the growing resource gap in our health system.
In the UK the Department for Education has unveiled plans to make wellbeing education universal in schools by 2020. In the US, more and more schools are adding social-emotional learning to their classic curriculum.
Hence, we must breakdown a curriculum of emotional skills and be ready to embark on an educational programme of lifelong emotional learning.
Embedded across the values and culture of universities, and not just the role of the counselling department, but lecturers, professors and supervisors equipped to offer quality mentorship including emotional education.
Next Generation Leadership
Out of a list of 19 possible attributes a graduate employee could bring to the workforce, employers ranked academic results bottom.
87% felt graduates often lack the emotional skills they need to thrive at work.
Hence, emotional education and mental fitness could not just help reduce burnout and boost drop out rates in education but also improve students’ chances of employment.
A staggering 99% of employers surveyed, said offering ‘soft skills’ on the university curriculum would vastly improve their chances of career success.
Graduate employers would like young people arriving in the workforce, valuing communication skills, teamwork, self-motivation and problem-solving above all else.
However, 50% of millennials and 75% of generation Z reportedly have left jobs for mental health reasons due to the lack of purpose driving the company values and culture.
In the age of automation, emotional education will play a key part in creativity and innovation
For the future of work and education to curb the growing rates of attrition and burnout
The next generation leader will certainly require a range of human skills in the workplace, including hybrid social and emotional capabilities or mental fitness.