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Student mental health and its effect on learning

Student stress is rising and some turn to tech to help says Dr Andres Fonseca, Consultant Psychiatrist and CEO/Co-Founder of Thrive

Posted by Charley Rogers | February 28, 2017 | Health & wellbeing

Student stress is on the rise and yet, the majority of those affected do not seek treatment. Even when they do, they often have to wait for months to receive the help they need. Given this situation, people have recently begun to explore alternatives to visiting their university therapist or support team, and some students are turning to technology to improve their mental health.

In spite of the seriousness of the situation, student mental health is rarely discussed. 92% of students have some degree of mental distress, and 30,000 young people experience an anxiety disorder.

Mobile mental health has allowed the public, doctors, and even researchers new ways to improve mental health.

So why are students not seeking help? According to survey conducted by the NUS (National Union of Students), cited in the Guardian, more than half of those who took part in the survey and reported having experienced mental health problems said they did not seek support. A third said they would not know where to get mental health support at their college or university if they needed it, while 40% reported being nervous about the support they would receive from their institution. Another factor resulting in students shying away from traditional methods is that a lot of teenagers aren’t willing to accept they are experiencing a mental health issue and do not feel they are at that point in severity in which treatment is needed. Yet, one third of students consider suicide by the age of 16.

A good education gives young people the ability to build the skills to progress in whichever career they choose, however the pressures of achievement can lead to negative side effects, and one in six students will actually experience panic attacks. Although measures are being taken to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, there are still significant factors that need to be addressed.

Mobile mental health has allowed the public, doctors, and even researchers new ways to improve mental health. This includes monitoring progress, access to helplines, stress-relieving applications, and further understanding of mental wellbeing through websites and social media.

So should students turn to their mobile phones for support? Some of the benefits include:

Convenience: Individuals, especially those within university age ranges, tend to have their mobile phones with them constantly and therefore when feeling stressed or down they could easily access support simply from taking their phone out of their pocket.

24/7: The majority of mental health professionals will work normal working hours (Monday-Friday, 9-5). You would also need to book appointments if they are needed. However, if you are feeling particularly stressed or anxious in the evening or there are no available spaces for days, you can access help and support instantly, anytime of the day.

Anonymous: Within an app, your identity can remain anonymous. There is no need to fill out forms or speak to somebody about your problems face to face, which some may find difficult.

Available to more people: There are numerous reasons why students do not typically receive help from professionals, including price, availability, access, stigma, and more. Apps provide a more open access to help.

Cheaper: Traditionally, visiting a therapist costs between £40-£100 per session (imagine the cost of one session per week) however apps cost a lot less—even if there is a subscription involved. Something that works won’t usually be free.

However, there are also a few cons. These include:

Effectiveness: Though some apps state they ‘really do work’, the effectiveness of them is not necessarily proven. If you are going to try an app, at least ensure the techniques within the app are clinically proven to reduce your symptoms.

Privacy: Apps monitoring mental health usually contain sensitive and personal information. Ensure any mental health apps you download protect your privacy.

Feel Stress Free from Thrive is one of the only apps developed by mental health professionals which includes all of the benefits above as well as having clinically proven techniques and high data protection. You can download feel stress free at www.feelstressfree.com

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