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New study exposes the reality of tertiary students’ mental health

New study exposes the reality of tertiary students’ mental health

Review:  Today the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) published the study: “Kei te Pai? Report on Student Mental Health in Aotearoa”, which was based on an opt-in survey of 1,762 tertiary students from across New Zealand. According to the NZUSA: “Adjusting to tertiary study, feelings of loneliness and academic anxiety have been identified as major triggering factors of depression, stress and anxiety amongst students.” 

The study looked at 23 possible triggering factors of depression, stress and anxiety and correlated them against each students psychological distress, as measured by their Kessler score.  The stand-out major triggering factor was ‘feeling of loneliness’ with a correlation of 58%.  The other 22 triggering factors had correlations between 12% and 42%. The top ten triggering factors are shown in the following diagram.

Bar chart showing correlation of psychological distress with triggers of depression, stress and anxiety

Furthermore, the study examined the relationship between psychological distress (as measured by the Kessler score) and how many people can be relied upon in difficult times of life – a measure of meaningful connections. The study showed that participants psychological distress “decreased steadily as they thought they had more people to rely on.” 

According to the study: “This finding strongly confirms that the number of people that the students think they can rely on in difficult times of their lives could be a strong predictor of their psychological distress.” In other words, you are less like to have psychological distress if you have more meaningful connections.

Feature photo: Cover page of new study. NZUSA.