24th April 2012 10:24 am
Study finds over quarter of students have or previously had mental illness
Tuesday 24th April sees the launch of this year’s Open Your Mind campaign across Northern Ireland. As part of the campaign, the project is launching a report containing important new findings in relation to mental health, based on information gathered from over 1500 students who attend university or college in Northern Ireland. These findings demonstrate that:
Over a quarter (27%) of students state that they currently or previously had a mental illness.’
Yet conversely: One in five (22%) say they have no experience of mental illness, either personally or through a friend or relative.
Depression remains the most commonly known mental illness (97%), closely followed by eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia (94%) and self-harming (94%).
The study commissioned by the Open Your Mind project also highlights certain risk factors that the student population of Northern Ireland believe impact on mental health and well-being, and these include drug/alcohol misuse, managing finances and worrying about job prospects.
President of the project's lead partner NUS-USI, Adrianne Peltz, stated: “So many people who leave home for the first time and are far away from friends and family can experience problems in relation to mental health. This type of scenario and the pressure of holding down a job while facing the stress of having to pass many exams and complete assignments can have a profoundly negative impact on some people’s lives, and this report’s findings are very telling.
“There must be no stigma attached to mental health matters and the Open Your Mind team at NUS-USI have done, and continue to do, an absolutely fantastic job in equipping students with the skills to help them assist others to combating the devastating impact of mental health problems.
“The launch of new campaign sees the team taking their training techniques on the road to help students right across Northern Ireland. They deliver a very valuable service and, given the increasing career and financial pressures many students face on an everyday basis, their work is becoming more and more important every day.”
Deputy Chief Executive of the project's other partner organisation MindWise, Anne Doherty, said: “These are very interesting findings which clearly show how many people have or have had a mental illness, yet they also starkly illustrate a potential lack of understanding of this very important issue, with around one in five people surveyed saying they had no experience of mental illness personally or through someone close to them.
“Both these key statistics perfectly illustrate the importance of the work that the Open Your Mind team do in raising awareness and training students in relation to mental health matters.”
The survey also identified some positive points, the main one of these being the fact that students were able to identify a good support network that they could turn to if needed, and these include their GP, family and also friends. Not only were the students able to speak of the support network they know is around them, but also they mentioned the knowledge they now have in terms of protecting their mental health through exercise, talking and stress management techniques.
This research is being launched during a Northern Ireland wide mental health awareness campaign, which is student led and for the students. The first few events will be:
Tuesday 24th April- Queens University Belfast
Wednesday 25th April- Belfast Metropolitan College
Thursday 26th April- University of Ulster, Coleraine campus
Tuesday 1st May- University of Ulster, Magee campus
Wednesday 2nd May- University of Ulster, Belfast campus
Thursday 3rd May- University of Ulster, Jordanstown campus
Open Your Mind will be demonstrating techniques to help address mental health matters the events that will take place in April/May across all the colleges and universities in Northern Ireland, for example a head massage service will be provided on each campus.
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