Nothing in the provision of student mental health support is more important than round-the-clock access, says a report published today (29 September).
Mental Health Innovations (MHI), the charity behind Shout 85258 text message support, found that three-quarters of students using the service made contact outside of the hours of 9am-5pm.
The period with the greatest demand was 10pm-midnight, when 20% of service users texted for immediate support.
While the new academic year has seen a lifting of most Covid-related restrictions and the widespread resumption of face-to-face teaching, 60% of the 3,956 university-age texters surveyed between January and August said they were anxious about what might face them in 2021/22.
The biggest concerns ranked as:
- Loneliness (74%)
- Relationships (72%)
- Workload (65%)
- Finances (52%)
- Possible future restrictions (30%)
- Disruption to in-person teaching (27%)
The majority of students surveyed wanted their university to provide increased and improved support, in the form of:
- Text message (75%)
- Face-to-face (72%)
- Webchat (47%)
- Phone (43%)
MHI says the report – ‘Supporting student mental health: Insight into students seeking support’ – is intended to help university leaders and policy makers understand students’ mental health needs and target resources where they are most needed.
“Large numbers of students are coming to Shout around the clock, seven days a week for support with a range of mental health concerns, including anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and loneliness,” said Victoria Hornby, CEO of MHI.
“This puts us in a unique position to be able to inform university leaders and policy makers about the challenges students are facing in real time and the services students need right now to better support their mental health. Scaling up digital mental health services will be key to providing students with the mental health support they need, when they need it.”
To read the full report, visit: mentalhealthinnovations.org/students
In related news: LGBT+ students four times more likely to have mental health problem