So we know from last week, considering all the stats, that students and mental health have a connection and understandably so, due to education being life-changing in every way. But it isn’t solely academic-related stress that can impact a student; other than getting good grades it can also be a means of finding oneself, forming friendships, managing finances and fulfilling other needs in life. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; it is a human’s function that motivates behaviour and experience (Maslow, 1943). An individual works their way towards gaining self-actualisation with university being the environment to help that process because receiving a degree can be a valuable means of achieving and exploring the other lower level needs i.e. esteem and safety.
There’s no doubt that education can not only shape us but also break us, and we sometimes forget that learning doesn’t just mean when it’s in an institution like a college or university, it doesn’t stop – we are always learning whether we are realising it or not. Although we understand that not everybody goes through these motions of life by choosing to not go through university and succeeding through other means, we are prone to associating education to the typical cycle of life: going from primary school to secondary then college and finally university life to achieve a sense of accomplishment as a means of #goals.
Let’s delve a little deeper into the student experience because it’s more than getting that degree at the end. It can begin with choosing where to apply to and whether you can get the grades to be accepted, then submitting UCAS applications. Perhaps at this stage, students may be reaching out for a sense of familiarity with friends applying to the same place, or anxiously excited with knowing that they’ll be a stranger in a new place.
With a looming sense of acceptance and rejection by institutions hovering, students sit exams wondering whether they’ve done enough and wait until results day to know whether plan A has worked out (it’s ok if it didn’t), or to fall back on to plan B or C…
Once accepted into an institute there can be the hassle of moving and figuring out commuting, and especially for Muslims, trying to find the right housemate/s to get along with to lead an Islamic lifestyle, because starting university doesn’t mean it’s time to forget our Lord. Remember Islam encourages us to gain good knowledge and make good use of it to help ourselves and others bi’ithnillah (with the permission of Allah).
Research has shown that task goals are positively related to positive affect and negatively correlated with negative affect (Mouratidis, Vansteenkiste, Lens & Auweele, 2009) showing that pursuing a task (such as getting a degree) is influenced by an individual’s emotion regulation; therefore the importance to succeed has emotional and cognitive consequences for the individual. In terms of the university experience, the independence and work load can be challenging yet rewarding, as it can initiate self-coping mechanisms (for better or for worse) to situations you haven’t dealt with before, helping to learn about oneself and motivations better.
The life cycle of a student is filled with pressures internal and external, with doses of anxiety and self-esteem issues along the way gradually building up, which can make some students more susceptible than others to mental health problems.
There are many factors contributing to a student that can impact their mental health, making us wonder why or how these issues can come about, which will be discussed in next week’s article.
At Inspirited Minds we’re here to hear and want you to share your student experiences. You can remain anonymous by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, commenting below or submitting your story via social media in this month’s campaign #StoriesofStressedStudents.