The UK has been in strict lockdown since November 5, with a looming release possible in early December. However, the lockdown means students at universities are unable to return home during term, and isolated in their dorms or university accommodations. However, even prior to the UK-wide lockdown, there has been growing frustration among students at universities across the UK that believe they were misled by being told to return to campus for face-to-face instruction, only to have that limited and then told they cannot leave during term. This has led to protests erupting across UK university campuses over lack of information and what they feel are inadequate university resources to help students with mental health.
The concern over misinformation has only heightened the concern that UK university students are on the brink, as reported by Newsweek, of facing a mental health crisis. Tensions have been reported in university halls over students not getting along, academic coursework strains, and even instructors at prestigious universities such as Cambridge, telling students that if they return home before they’re allowed to they may not be able to return to their studies, or even graduate. The British government is set to announce a “student travel window” from December 3-9 allowing students to move home in an effort to ensure that students aren’t kept away from their family over the holidays. However, that’s still two weeks away with mounting stress and concern from students.
Recent studies on youth mental health have only validated student’s concern. A recent University of Glasgow study found that COVID-19 increased the suicidal thoughts of young adults. The British Journal of Psychiatry found that suicidal thoughts have increased on average from 8% to 10% in just three months among people ages 18 – 29.
Mental health concerns, coupled with rising tensions on campus and academics, only reinforces the urgent need for comprehensive student mental health support. With Symplicity Advocate, institutions can prepare to best serve their students now and in a post COVID-19 world. Our solution helps with early intervention to proactively identify and support students who need help, ranging from mental health issues to financial advice. With automated case management, robust reporting, configurable workflows, and our unmatched client support, institutions can have all the information they need in one place to enable them to help students faster and build a safer community. This includes seeing which staff member is working with which student, setting up virtual counseling sessions, and providing students with proactive tools to help them cope through this time. Providing student wellbeing must be a top priority for all higher education institutions to ensure student success.