Study Finds That Difficulty Sleeping, Financial Stressors Increase Mental Health Risk in University Students

August 2, 2022 12:00:52

New research on student well-being in the pandemic period has identified sleep difficulties and worsened financial situation as indicators of people with a heightened risk of developing mental health conditions. The findings, which were reported in the “BJPsychOpen” journal, will be useful to institutions of higher learning because they can help identify students with a high risk of developing mental health conditions and offer enhanced support to those students.

For their study, researchers at the University of Warwick carried out a survey of more than 500 young adults who weren’t in higher education and almost 900 university students, between July and September 2020. They conducted a follow up of about 200 of the university students after six months.

The researchers conducted an analysis of the responses submitted, discovering a number of factors associated with high poor mental health levels at the end of the United Kingdom’s first lockdown. Those factors include prior mental health conditions, age, worse financial status, career status and increased difficulty sleeping.

When comparing the responses of nonstudents to those from university students of a similar age, the researchers note that they observed no substantial differences between the mental health symptoms in both groups. However, they did observe a higher risk of substance misuse in the former group. In addition to this, they discovered during the follow-up that increased difficulty sleeping and financial difficulties would consistently forecast poor mental health.

They also discovered that there was a decrease in symptoms of mental health over time, with the percentage of students who reported depression symptoms and anxiety symptoms decreasing to 61% from almost 70% and to about 59% from 72%, respectively. In their report, the investigators propose that this may be due to the students adapting as the pandemic progressed.

The researchers add that prevention and intervention measures available could be applied to the general population for greater generalizability. Professor Nicole Tang of the psychology department at the institution and the lead author of the study, stated that the data generated by this research could be used by universities to inform intervention and prevention strategies as well as policies.

Dr. Elaine Lockhart, chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, added that this study also highlighted the need for continued support to mental health services both out of and in university settings. Warwick Health Global Research Priorities supported the study, which was financed by the PVC (Research) COVID Research Program Award (University of Warwick).

Financial and other stressors are increasing amid the ongoing uncertainty and economic upheavals around the world, which means companies such as Cybin Inc. (NYSE American: CYBN) (NEO: CYBN) that are researching new treatments for mental disorders need to add more vigor to their efforts so that these illnesses are treated effectively without exposing patients to unwanted side effects.

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