Mental health advocates in the United Kingdom are issuing warnings that COVID-19 has only exacerbated mental health concerns for those aged 18-24. As reported by Politics Home, “Students were not being given adequate support or access to mental health services, and the pandemic has only exacerbated these issues,” according to National Union of Students (NUS) Vice President of Liberation and Equity, Sara Khan. In 2021, the time is now to put in place meaningful measures to support young adults.
Mental health concerns for Generation Z
When it comes to Generation Z (“Zeds”), those now entering secondary school and university, a 2019 study found that that depressive symptoms are two-thirds higher in Zeds than in millennials, and the former are also more likely to self-harm. Additionally, Zeds are more likely to be self-critical and score higher on perfectionist tests than previous generations. Trend reports from 2020 only paint a grimmer picture of the mental health status of young adults in the pandemic world. A November 2020 study by the British Journal of Psychiatry found that young adults dealing with anxiety almost doubled from pre-pandemic levels at 12.97% to 24.35% and experienced lower wellbeing during the pandemic. Additionally, the latest statistics from Young Minds, found in their survey of 2,036 that young adults between 18-24 surveyed this summer, 80% of respondents agreed that the pandemic had made their mental health worse and 41% said it had made their mental health “much worse” due to isolation, anxiety, and lack of motivation (this is up from 32% from a March 2020 survey Young Minds conducted).
It is no surprise then that mental health experts are warning UK citizens about the long-term impacts the pandemic will have on young adults. Dr. Dasha Nicholls, who is part of the You-Cope study into how mental health and wellbeing among young people has been impacted by the pandemic, told the Guardian:
“This generation is entering uncharted territory, where their opportunities have been devastated. People talk of the resilience of the young, but this crisis has happened so quickly that young people have had no time to change and adapt. The impact on them could become entrenched, with potentially enduring consequences.”
What will normal look like?
Mental health concerns, coupled with rising tensions on campus and academics, only reinforces the urgent need for comprehensive student mental health support now and to prepare for the residual impacts in a post-COVID world. In particular, Gen Z will be experiencing challenges in the months to come as vaccine rollouts continue across the region and our world will reintegrate back to whatever the “new normal” will look like. It is imperative that universities prepare their staff and students by putting in place comprehensive mental health support for their student body.
With Symplicity Advocate, institutions can prepare to do just that. That comes with an all-in-one system that identifies the best ways to serve 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 counselling 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.