Mental Health Launch 2023
The 2023 annual Cibyl Mental Health Study explores the mental health of almost 13,000 students and graduates from more than 140 universities.
The survey found that 39% of students say they experienced a decline in their mental health after starting university. Half of students worry about their mental health either daily or weekly and less than a quarter say they have no mental health difficulties. Money worries, not finding a job, feeling ‘not good enough’, are their major concerns.
Rising prices are a major concern for students. Over 7 in 10 students say money worries have caused a decline in their mental health. “[The] cost of living is too high to go outside and socialise often, so I just have to stay back home alone”, said one student.
Dealing with loneliness is a big challenge. Nearly three-quarters of students felt lonely or isolated in the 12 months prior to the survey. Student respondents with low mental health were likely not to have made friends at university, or say the friendships they had made were of poor quality. It’s shocking that 1 in 5 students said they have no friends at university.
The availability of mental health support impacts where students choose to study and work. 58% of students say robust support provision is important to them when they choose a university, a significant increase from 45% in 2022. And 81% of students say mental health provision is important when choosing an employer, up from 51% in 2022.
A high proportion of LGBTQ+ students (94%) have experienced mental health challenges. Other groups that report above average mental health challenges include female students, White students, and those from low-socioeconomic backgrounds. Disabled students are nearly twice as likely to experience depression and anxiety, and more than twice as likely to have acted on suicidal thoughts.
Students are also worried about finding a graduate job (57%) and for graduates in work, more than 1 in 5 fear they may lose their job. Even when students have left university and started work money worries continue: 79% of graduates with a low mental health score worry about money daily or weekly.
There are signs things are getting better since the pandemic. The number of students currently facing mental health difficulties has dropped from 35% to 29% - but still affected almost a third of all students at the time of the survey.
Through this report, we aim to increase awareness around mental health even further. We hope the findings from this research will enable further improvements in young people’s mental health support.
Now in its third year, The Cibyl Student Mental Health survey was conducted in partnership with Accenture, Imperial College London and Universities UK. The work was also supported by mental health charity Student Minds. The survey was completed online between December 2022 and February 2023 by 12,796 students and graduates from more than 140 universities (89% current students and 11% graduates of the last three years).