Student satisfaction is more important than ever, and not just for the sake of looking good on league tables
There were 95 recorded student suicides in the 12 months leading up to July 2017, averaging at 4.7 deaths for every 100,000 students. This is the cost of not paying enough attention to their well being. Student mental health is more prevalent an issue than ever, and its one that is still not talked about enough. Improving student’s satisfaction is less a question of impressing them, and more a case of protecting them. And something needs to be done.
Loneliness, academic pressure and anxiety are common within a University setting, and all have the capability to be damaging to mental health. To an extent, this process is inevitable. It isn’t possible for Universities to provide each of their students with a set of friends and good grades. But even within the realms of their capabilities, many institutions are falling short. And the ones that do pay attention are sadly unrecognised.
Around one quarter of students experience psychological distress in some form, and 71% said that work related stress was the main cause. So, higher education is at least in some way contributing to the student mental health crisis. But what are Universities doing to help solve it?
The answer? Not enough. University counselling services are currently only reaching around 4% of their students. This is the sad reality of what seems to be an increasingly unsuccessful system. For every student convinced to contact their University well being services, there are so many more sat alone in their rooms: afraid to ask for help; not knowing what to do; struggling to cope. These people simply have to be reached, and there comes a point when pet therapy sessions, advertisements for night lines and half hearted attempts at reaching out just stop working.
The good news is that this problem is a lot easier to solve than many people might think. If academic stress and social isolation are the biggest contributors to negative student mental health, then the solution is simple: bring them together.
89% of students found peer mentoring helpful in their transition to university and 70% said a peer mentor made them more confident in their own ability to do well. So, peer mentoring helps combat both the pressure of academic performance and the concern of social isolation. It has the potential to contribute hugely to positive student mental health. And yet it remains a largely untapped resource. If institutions were to utilise peer mentoring to its full potential they could help combat the issues that make student suicide a far too frequent occurrence, protecting their students and ensuring the University experience is a positive one.
Admittedly, its a hard mountain to climb. Universities don’t have the time or resources to implement full scale peer mentoring systems. Older students don’t have the time or patience to meet with younger students. First years are far too scared to even consider asking for help from anyone older.
But at Tyfy, we make all these problems go away. By creating an online system where students are matched based on course and module, Tyfy provides users with the opportunity to spend their spare time connecting with the people around them and improving their academic abilities. All from their phones. And the best part? Universities don’t have to do anything except send in a spreadsheet. Its peer mentoring, made easy.
Logistics aside, providing students with a platform to connect with peers on both an academic and personal level is invaluable. It lets them know they’re not alone, and this is the key to protecting not just their safety, but their happiness too. A connected campus is a happy campus, and one no student should be left out of.
Marketing Co-ordinator dfor Tyfy.co
Emily studies English at Keele University and manages blog content for Tyfy. As well as her own Mental Health Monday column, Em also carries out Marketing, Research and Development for the Company.