16 to 24 year olds are an age group that are particularly vulnerable to mental health issues, as 75% of mental health concerns are established by the age of 251. With this in mind colleges and their teams have regularly seen first hand the challenges faced by their students, over a long period of time.
Post-pandemic mental health challenges have intensified, with over a third of students saying their mental health has worsened since Autumn 2021.
While these figures are growing there are procedures and support colleges can put in place to help the most vulnerable students in their care.
What has caused this increase?
During the pandemic people of all ages felt isolated due to the prolonged lockdowns, with heightened anxiety caused by the life-threatening impacts of the virus. As we all emerge from this global crisis, there are now new issues to worry about.
With the psychological impacts of world events such as global warming and the threat of conflict and the rising cost of living, more students than ever before are facing financial, social and emotional struggles. This places colleges at the centre of the mental health crisis.
While online resource supported many of us during the pandemic, it can have a negative impact, especially on young adults who are still developing their identities and self confidence. The internet, and social media platforms specifically, can leave young adults feeling isolated, anxious and depressed. They can also physically affect the amount of sleep students get, leading to fatigue and a lack of motivation and concentration during their studies.
The mixture of prolonged isolation and heightened anxiety during the pandemic, alongside the day to day effects of social media can cause a toxic combination for students trying hard to study, socialise and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
What mental health issues are most prevalent?
Students have reported an increase in a range of conditions including3:
- Increased levels of stress
- Eating disorders
- Reduced sleep or interrupted sleeping patterns
What can colleges do to help?
At Greater Manchester Colleges Group we prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of our students, staff and faculty with a range of resources and procedures.
Funded by the Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership, GMCG Colleges have come together with Greater Manchester 6th form colleges to support and address the mental health needs including:
- ACES/Trauma Informed work
- Social Prescribing
- Supervision for staff
- Mental health first aid
- Targeting vulnerable groups
- Online resources
- Working with Independent Training Providers
- CWT consultancy
Why should colleges promote positive mental health?
Studying can be stressful for students, especially when they are facing exams. To help overcome these challenges and build resilience it’s important to maintain good mental health and wellbeing which prepares students for the world of work ahead.
High levels of mental health amongst students has been proven to boost learning, productivity and creativity4 – which are vital to succeed in technical education and a future career.
Colleges have a great opportunity to support students during this time and make a positive impact on the growing numbers of students facing a mental health crisis.
Discover more about the actions we’re taking to support our students across our Further Education colleges in Greater Manchester, here.