The mental health of young university students was one of the main topics addressed during 2022 by the State University of Milan.
In fact, in the past year, the conference ‘Exiting Discomfort: the University and Territorial Institutions in Support of the Health and Psychological Wellbeing of the Student Population‘ was held, which involved, together with UNIMI, the Municipality of Milan, the Lombardy Region, the Regional School Office and territorial institutions dedicated to youth discomfort.
The pandemic effect on the mental health of university students
As was easy to predict, Covid has had a worrying effect on the psychological state of young people. During the conference, it was pointed out that in the past year, requests from boys and girls for psychological support have increased by about 75%.
The psycho-emotional distress highlighted by most students during the pandemic was a sense of loneliness and bewilderment.
Experienced especially by those forced to stay in Milan, without the possibility of returning home and without any contact with the outside world and the university community.
Students who instead were able to return to their homes of origin encountered different but equally uncomfortable situations, resulting from forced cohabitation and with few
opportunities to create their own personal space, where they could concentrate on their studies.
What are the major psychological discomforts we encounter today?
Even today, young people are still psychologically feeling the consequences of covid.
Fortunately, most of them are aware of the difficulties they are experiencing and are prepared to seek help, even agreeing to start a support course.
The most frequent problems concern the management of exam anxiety, difficulties in settling in, feelings of isolation and motivation problems.
Among the male and female students, a latent state of anxiety-depression is evident
A generalized sense of apathy, insomnia, irritability or lethargy, these are the most common feelings. We are talking about young people who, normally, had a rich social life but which today are struggling to recover.
The State University of Milan helps its students
UNIMI has established a series of initiatives to support the student population in light of what emerged during the conference. In addition to having already increased the number of psychotherapist counselors from one to four, it will set up a “fragility desk” to deal with the increase in cases of psychological fragility that have emerged in the University.
Morevore events and conferences are planned to raise awareness among the academic community on the issue of well-being and mental health among university students.
Finally, thanks to the collaborative network between the Milan State University and local authorities, it will be possible to access therapeutic pathways and services at reduced costs.
Young people will know who to turn to and they will not be alone in this journey in this way, finding instead support from the institutions that are working to ensure a system of psychological help for anyone in need.
Mental health: Some data from the Statale survey on psychological well-being
During the conference “Exiting discomfort – the University and local institutions supporting the health and psychological wellbeing of the student population”, were presented the data from the survey conducted on a sample of over 7,000 young people.
They were asked about their degree of life satisfaction, understood as the positive evaluation a person gives of the life lived up to that point, in relation to their individual criteria (values, goals, expectations).
A low-to-medium level of satisfaction emerged, with almost 32% of the sample declaring themselves dissatisfied or extremely dissatisfied, 23% slightly dissatisfied, 5% neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, 22% slightly satisfied, and about 19% satisfied or extremely satisfied.
Furthermore, 62% of the respondents believe that economic conditions have an impact on their academic satisfaction.
The main sources of concern are:
- the cost of traveling (26%);
- the difficulties in reconciling study and work (21%)
- the difficulty in obtaining scholarships and financial bonuses (14%).
Finally, 12% are frankly concerned about being in the situation of having to abandon their studies because of their economic situation.
This survey is very important to understand the issues and fears that young people are facing in this historical period.
Psychological wellbeing must be protected just as much as physical wellbeing.
It is crucial that we all have the interest and the will to protect the mental health of university students through concrete actions, guaranteeing services and support that help improve their quality of life.