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Mental Illness Higher For University Students


A new research from The University of Queensland and their clinical psychologist Helen Stallman examined 6500 students and discovered that students, mostly under-graduates in their second, third or fourth year, aged between 18 and 34 were very stressed and had mental health issues.

Dr. Stallman found 83.9 percent of students were mentally distressed. She also discovered that the rates of serious mental illness among those she polled were five times higher than in the general population.

Dr Stallman said her findings were of great concern. "A really high proportion of university students are reporting higher levels of psychological distress and significantly more than that in the general population," she said.

''It's making it more difficult for students to actually get the work done they need to get done, and so for some students they'll actually drop out,'' she said. ''University is stressful in that you've got the normal stresses that everybody else has in their life and, on top of that, you've got academic stress as well.''

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''This is unsurprising given the enormous stress that university students are under, not only with study but with the pressures of modern life,'' she said. ''NUS is concerned about the number of students who are mentally stressed, which is why we have always advocated for more students to receive youth allowance.''

She said financial pressures were a significant stress trigger for students. ''Studying full-time and having to work to support yourself puts unrealistic pressures on students, and more needs to be done to ensure their mental health and that they stay in our universities.''

Stallman says the study also found students were under pressure to perform. "Students who are suffering very high levels of distress that is probably indicative of mental health problems, we had 19 per cent of students reporting that high," she said. "In the general population that's only 3 per cent of people."

Professor Brett McDermott is an associate professor of psychiatry at the Mater Children's Hospital stated that this can be an extremely worrying times as It's a somewhat vulnerable time of life for these students. "This is a time for major life decisions. Picking a partner is probably the most important decision of your life and this happens soon, picking your career path. And to be depressed at that time at some level must limit your opportunities," he said.

Stallman stated the university was developing an online program in hopes to help construct mental resilience in students. "Universities and governments need to focus on the idea of promoting resilience as a key aspect of developing really capable graduates," she said.

The Age
ABC News