A recent article written by Alan Percy, head of counselling at the University of Oxford, takes a look at the numerous factors that collide within the post-secondary student experience to decrease student mental health. The mutually-reinforcing challenges of academic work, increasing tuition and uncertain economic prospects increase stress and anxiety. At the same time,  social and mass media create unrealistic expectations and unhealthy perfectionism in many students. However, Percy cautions against medicalizing the difficult, yet natural, life struggles that many students face during this stage of development.

According to Percy, “The use of labels such as ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety disorder’ can have the effect of making young adults feel trapped in a ‘passive sick role’ rather than helping them to develop the internal skills and resources to cope with life challenges”.  Instead, a label can be a positive first step in seeking assistance for the underlying distress. University counselling services are a great resource. Students who make use of these services report being less likely to withdraw, more able to study, and more optimistic about future employment.  Evidence shows that at least 75% of those who seek help through university counselling services across the UK see significant and reliable improvement.

To read the full article, check out:  Student mental health: the situation is more nuanced than it seems by Alan Percy. Published in The Guardian; October 16, 2014.

Photo by CAMH Foundation | CC BY 2.0

Photo by CAMH Foundation | CC BY 2.0

For information on mental health and wellness resources on your campus, including your university counselling service, visit: My School’s Resources