Students from minority or disadvantaged background most at risk of poor mental health, study reveals

New Government funding aims to target student demographics most at risk of poor mental health after a study found that a quarter of undergraduates report having a mental health condition.

The research, published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), also found that around one in four students report feeling lonely “almost all of the time”.

However, the study further found that select demographics, such as black or ethnic minority students, those from disadvantaged backgrounds, LGBT+ students or those with a disability, are at greater risk of developing a mental health condition.

The research echoes Office for Students (OfS) data, which suggests that the “degree attainment gap” between black and white students with a reported mental health condition is 26.8 per cent.

Announcing the new grant funding on University Mental Health Day last week, the Government said it is inviting universities to “submit proposals that will target and help students who might be at greater risk of mental ill health or who may face barriers to getting support”.

Commenting on the report, Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said: “It is vital no student is put at risk by not getting the help they need. Universities must step up to this challenge, and this funding will help them and the sector by looking at ways support can be better targeted and improved.”

Chris Millward, Director for Fair Access and Participation at the OfS, added: “All students deserve the opportunity to thrive at university and college, but for too many mental ill-health remains a significant barrier. We know that there are many factors which can impact the wellbeing of students and situations where students may be or feel more vulnerable. Through this funding we want to support innovative and strategic solutions that can help ensure that all students, regardless of their background or how they study, get the support they need.”

The latest figures suggest one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, with the most common illnesses including anxiety and depression.

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