One in three Australian university students think about self-harm and suicide, survey finds

Over 35% of students enrolled at universities or TAFE courses across Australia have had thoughts about self-harm and suicide in the past year, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Union of Students and headspace.

The study was the first by NUS focusing on tertiary students aged between 17 and 25 and one of the largest of its kind in Australia, surveying 2,600 students around the country.

From the same sample group, 70% rate their overall mental health as falling between poor to fair, about 80% report general stress, lack of energy or motivation, anxiousness and low moods, and more than half experience feelings of worthlessness, panic and sleeplessness.

NUS welfare officer Jill Molloy says many factors can contribute to poor mental health in students.

“Workload, looming deadlines, relationship problems, financial difficulties, drug and alcohol use, it’s a long list that students themselves say have a detrimental impact,” she said.

“This is why we have partnered with headspace to bring these issues to light.”

The youth mental health initiative headspace has over 99 centres throughout the country and also provides counselling services and support over the phone and online.

Headspace CEO Jason Trethowan urges young people struggling with mental health to talk about it.

“Like all big life transitions, after finishing year 12 young people can be more vulnerable, they are an at-risk group with no clear check-in point for mental health difficulties,” he said.

“They might have moved out of home for the first time, they might have greater responsibilities financially, and domestically.

“Some young people might engage in risky behaviours such as drug use.

“They may have less parental contact leaving them vulnerable and changes in their mental health going unnoticed.

“Young people need to know that headspace is here to help.”

In addition to contacting counselling services, headspace suggests students can attempt to manage their mental health and study-related stress levels by organising their study schedules, staying in contact with and openly discussing their issues with family members and friends, and avoiding alcohol and drugs.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact the following:

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