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Third-level students are suffering from extreme anxiety and depression, study shows

Those without stable student accommodation were likely to suffer from anxiety (50.0%) and depression (77.8%).

Image: Shutterstock/Branislav Nenin

IRELAND’S FIRST STUDY into third-level students’ mental health has indicated that a significant number are suffering from anxiety (38.4%), depression (29.9%) and stress (17.3%).

The Union of Students in Ireland will later today publish the first National Report on Student Mental Health in Third Level, which shows that many students suffer from extreme stress or anxiety. In some cases this appeared to be linked with the subject they were studying. 

Those studying in the areas of health science and hospitality appear to be more likely to be within normal ranges and less likely to be extremely severely anxious, according to the survey.

Those studying engineering were least likely to be extremely severely anxious (32.9%).

In terms of depression those studying business, health sciences and hospitality were most likely to fall within normal ranges, with those studying business and law as well as students not falling into any of the usual categories were most likely to be extremely severely depressed. When it came to stress, students studying in the hospitality industry ranked highest in both normal ranges and extremely severely stressed.

Although 32.2% of students had a formal diagnosis of a mental health difficulties at some point in their lives, just 20.9% of students did not have someone to talk to about the personal and emotional difficulties.

Those without stable accommodation were likely to suffer from anxiety (50.0%) and depression (77.8%) while those falling into the other category were more likely to be extremely severely stressed (35.7%). The latter category includes those living in a variety of settings including with friends, family-owned accommodation or a mobile home.

Money Source: USI student mental health survey

The responses also indicated that some students are more vulnerable to mental health difficulties including women, students who struggle financially, as well as those who identify as LGBTQI+ and students with disabilities.

Two-fifths of respondents (41.8%) were receiving social welfare support of some kind.

The survey was open from late January to the end of April 2018, and received responses from a total 3,340 students on the island of Ireland, representing a response rate of 0.89%. 73% of respondents were female, and 88.3% were enrolled in an Undergraduate Degree.

In total there were 131 items in the survey, four of these questions were open-ended. It would take students 10-20 minutes to complete the survey.

“It’s the first study done of it’s time so it’s really great to have this in front of us now,” the USI Vice-President for Welfare Roisin O’Donovan told Morning Ireland today.

They’re quite shocking and they’re quite sad figures I think as well, because obviously behind each and every one of those statistics it’s a student.

“[My advice to students is to] find someone who you can have to talk to during the college year, it is a very stressful time.” 

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