Fri. Mar 22nd, 2024

How financial stress impacts the mental well-being of university students

By Caterina Magnoni Feb 21, 2024
Brick wall with "Until debt tear us apart" written on it

The connection between debt and mental health is a pressing issue facing university students. While your time at university should be filled with the promise of building a brighter future, both academically and socially, the burden of debt is an aspect of student life that threatens to dim the beauty of this experience. The psychological toll of student debt extends beyond mere financial concerns: studies have consistently linked high levels of debt to increased rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders among university students. 90% of students surveyed by the National Union of Students (NUS) for its September 2022 Cost of Living report said the rising cost of living had negatively impacted their mental health.

“Debt affects everyone and I feel like students are in a more difficult situation as not only are they in debt to study, they then also have to deal with studying which isn’t easy itself,” said Alex Cooper, second-year dance student.

“Being a university student has always been a challenging experience as you are working towards building your future and unfortunately the money struggles come with that. For some people it’s worth it in the end but for others it’s not,” said Cooper.

New research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS, 2022) found that 25% of students had taken on new debt in response to the rising cost of living, including those who borrowed more or used more credit than usual. Of these, 66% reported they did so because their student loan was insufficient to support their living costs, causing them emotional distress.

Furthermore, the pressure to succeed academically while grappling with financial insecurity can exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions or trigger new ones. A 2022 document released by Student Minds, the student mental health charity, shows that students with financial difficulties are predicted to be more likely to have poorer mental health, greater rates of alcohol dependence as a coping mechanism, and greater anxiety.

To every university student struggling with the weight of debt and its toll on mental health, it is crucial to recognise that you are not alone. The struggles you face are shared by countless others navigating the complex intersection of financial strain and mental well-being.

It is essential to acknowledge the challenges you are experiencing and to seek help when needed.

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