VICTORIA, Australia — If a survey of college students’ mental health in Australia is any indiction of college students’ mental health in other major nations, parents should take note of an alarming level of psychological distress for many undergrads.

Headspace, a governmental initiative in Australia launched to help ameliorate mental health issues, worked in tandem with the National Union of Students (NUS), an organization that fights for students rights, with their annual survey focusing on students’ well-being. The latest survey showed an astonishing 70 percent of respondents rated their mental health as being only “fair” or “poor.”

Stressed-out student
An annual survey of Australian college students shows 70 percent consider their mental health “fair” or “poor.” A third had contemplated suicide or self-harm.

Just as troubling, the survey showed two-thirds of respondents expressed having felt “high” or “very high” psychological distress during the preceding year.

Headspace’s CEO Jason Trethowan explains that the college student demographic is “an at-risk group with no clear check-in point for mental health difficulties. They might have moved out of home for the first time, they might have greater responsibilities financially, and domestically. Some young people might engage in risky behaviours such as drug use. They may have less parental contact leaving them vulnerable and changes in their mental health going unnoticed.” he says in a press release. “They are a group that can fall through the cracks.”

The survey, which polled thousands of Australian youth aged 17 to 25, also found:

  • 35.4 percent had contemplated suicide or self-harm in the preceding 12 months
  • 83.2 percent had felt stressed
  • 82.1 percent had felt a lack of energy or motivation
  • 79 percent had felt anxious; 75.8 percent had experienced low mood
  • 59.2 percent had experienced feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • 55.6 percent had trouble sleeping
  • 52.7 percent had felt feelings of panic

Headspace’s survey was released to coincide with National Youth Week, a national weeklong holiday of sorts to celebrate and acknowledge the contributions that youths make to Australian society.

To help prevent psychiatric distress as a college student, Headspace recommends avoiding alcohol and other drugs, creating a structured and orderly environment for studying, exercising, and spending time with like-minded peers.

Australian youths who are struggling with their mental health can visit one of Headspace’s 99 clinics across the country.

Amelia Walters, an 18-year-old Headspace youth advocate who sought help from Headspace after encountering her own struggles in school, says students often ignore their difficulties, only making it harder on themselves.

“We don’t talk enough about just how hard university is – not just in academics, but as a total readjustment, self-discovery period,” she says in the release. “There is this idea that everyone else is managing and is succeeding, but it’s not the case, and many people still don’t talk about the pressure because there is a stigma in admitting that you’re struggling.”

About Daniel Steingold

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