By Maddy Russell, News Editor and Ben Bloch, Fourth Year French and Spanish
Authors of the 2019 Wellbeing Report suggest that more support needs to be given to ‘high risk’ groups.
Bristol University students from minority backgrounds and those who attended state schools are more likely to suffer from symptoms of depression and anxiety, than those that are not, according to findings in the University’s 2019 Wellbeing Report.
This comes following a report by Epigram that 45 per cent of all Bristol students were found to ‘screen positive’ for depression in the University’s annual wellbeing report for 2019.
Students who are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds; who attended a state school; who are the first in their families to attend university; who identify as having a disability or who identify as LGBQT are more likely to suffer problems with their overall wellbeing, than other students, authors of the Wellbeing Report for 2019 have suggested.
The report identifies that 56 per cent of BME students who responded to the survey experienced ‘moderate to severe’ symptoms of depression, compared to 43 per cent of students who identified as white.
In response to the findings a spokesperson for Bristol’s BME network said: ‘It isn't a surprise that BME students face worse mental health compared to white students.
‘The University's partnership with NILAARI is a good start to helping BME students with their mental health, but as they said, there is still more work to be done as this is more of a stop gap.
‘BME students do not feel as included and welcome in the University space as white students do and it is this that needs to be changed on a systemic scale.’
First in their families to attend university and those who attended state schools
Students who were the first in their families to attend university were also identified by the report as being more likely to suffer problems with their wellbeing, than those who were not the first to attend university or who went to grammar schools or fee-paying independent schools.
Nearly half of students who attended state schools, were found to suffer with ‘moderate to severe’ symptoms of depression compared with 43 per cent of those who attended grammar schools and 41 per cent of those who independent schools.
In a statement to Epigram, Alice Chancellor, President of The 93% Club, said: 'University can be an incredibly daunting place, especially if you’re one of the first of your family to attend. One of the biggest issues that is evident to us as a society is the feeling of loneliness that many state-school students can feel during their first year at Bristol.
'Being placed in a flat with fellow students who may not share your educational or social background can be an extremely isolating experience, as well as having to face potential financial concerns that may not burden your more well-off peers.
'With the potential for such social and financial anxieties, it’s not hard to see why students who come from state schools are more likely to suffer with well-being problems than those from fee-paying schools.'
Students classed as being disabled were also more likely to suffer from depression. Those with a physical disability were 10 per cent more likely to suffer with problems with their mental health, than those with no disability. 70 per cent of students who described themselves as having a non-physical disability also screened positive for depression.
Non-Binary and LGBTQ students
LGBTQ students were also more likely to suffer from ‘moderate to severe’ depression according to the report. 78 per cent of student who identified themselves as non-binary were found to demonstrate ‘moderate to severe’ symptoms of depression, compared with 41 per cent of those who identified as male and 48 per cent of those who identified as female.
Those who identified as LGBTQ were also more likely to demonstrate symptoms of depression, with 63 per cent of LGBTQ respondents screening positive for depression, compared with 40 per cent of heterosexual students.
Whilst, the overall number of students displaying symptoms of depression in the 2019 Wellbeing Report remained largely the same as in 2018, students’ overall attitudes towards the University’s wellbeing services were found to have improved.
The report found that perception of the availability of wellbeing services and their accessibility had gone up since 2018. With just under half of students in the 2019 report claiming to have found time with a Student Wellbeing advisor ‘extremely useful’ compared to only 39% in 2018. Similarly, the number of those claiming that the University Wellbeing services were ‘not useful’ had fallen.
In a statement to Epigram, in response to the findings, a spokesperson for the University said: ‘ We have already taken active steps to improve the experience of students including establishing specialist wellbeing support for BME students through NILAARI and a new Inclusion team in 2018, including a BAME Officer and an International Officer.
The University established a new BME success programme which seeks to ensure our teaching and learning are more inclusive, promote social equality and wellbeing. An important aspect of the programme is looking at creating a sense of belonging for our underrepresented group, an example of this is the Black Men Talk and Black Women Talk peer groups for students to discuss their life experiences and interpretations of them through exploration and sharing of various wellbeing techniques.
‘The University has developed the Report and Support tool, to improve reporting of harassment and a review of international student experience and a new action plan is on the way.’
Featured Image: Epigram/ Imogen Horton
Students who may be experiencing depression or other problems with their mental health are encouraged to get in contact with the support services bellow
Young Minds https://youngminds.org.uk/ 0808 802 5544
Papyrus https://www.papyrus-uk.org/ 0800 068 41 41
Student Minds http://www.studentminds.org.uk/findsupport.html