First-year students studying at the college or university in Reading say their top health and wellbeing concern is ‘coping with stress and worries’, according to a survey carried out by Healthwatch Reading.
More than two-thirds of the 172 students answering the survey said stress was the issue most important to them right now, followed by weight and diet (32%) and coping with depression or a diagnosed mental health condition (21%).
The survey – carried out at Fresher’s Fairs held in September 2018, also showed:
- Only 24% of respondents said they would know how to access help for serious mental health issues
- Only 31% said they would know how to access free and/or emergency contraception
- Only 31% said they would know how to access medical help when their GP surgery was shut
- The local NHS sexual health clinic was the least-well known service in Reading, with only 22% of student respondents saying they knew where to find it (The Florey clinic is based in a Royal Berkshire Hospital building in Craven Road)
When asked to name the topic or service they most wanted more information on, most students identified mental health. Their comments included: “Help for anxiety”, “Mental health conditions e.g. panic attacks”, “Help with depression”, “Coping with stress during exams”.
Healthwatch Reading convened a workshop in November 2018 with welfare staff from the University of Reading, University Health Centre, and Reading College, to discuss the findings.
Action we've taken to help students
To help first-year students navigate Reading’s services, Healthwatch Reading produced a ‘Quick Guide’ of local health and wellbeing services, which we handed out at the Fresher’s Fairs. University Health Centre is also handing out our quick quide to students and we have also created an online directory.
Healthwatch Reading plans to work further with the educational institutions in 2019 to hold focus groups with students to understand their views and experiences in more detail.