Student wellbeing - anxiety, study skills, and performance at The Skill Collective Psychologists and Counsellors in Subiaco.png
 

STUDENT wellbeing, MENTAL HEALTH, and performance

Being a student might outwardly seem to be a nice life - long holidays, and fewer ‘adulting’ responsibilities look really great on paper. But, scratch the surface and you might find quite different picture. Students face various pressures, including:

  • All students can feel the pressure to perform academically, however research suggests this is particularly true for disciplines requiring higher entry grades [1].

  • Juggling work and study demands can be tricky! While 82% of students are in paid work, only 35% of these think they have satisfactory study/work balance. More than one quarter of full-time students regularly miss class because of work and 41% report that work negatively impacts on their study [2].

  • Unsurprisingly, given the financial and work pressures of being a student, many Australian students face issues with poor diet, excessive alcohol consumption, and disrupted sleep patterns. This in turn can have negative impacts on mental health [3].

  • Moving away from home (for rural and international students), and from their support network of family, friends, and cultural and community connections. These student groups are at increased risk for experiencing mental health problems [4, 5].

  • Planning for a future career (or the pressure to make the ‘right’ decision, at an early age, about the decades ahead).

  • Maintaining relationships, including with family, friends, and partners, when trying to study and work.

  • Poor psychological wellbeing and mental health that impact on academic and general functioning.

The last of these is of particular interest - what does student mental health look like? Here are some sobering statistics:

  • A survey of high school students in Australia showed show that one-fifth reported experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress. [6]

  • A survey of Australian university students showed that one in four university students experience mental health problems every year.[7]

  • 75% of all mental disorders occurs before the age of 24 years old. [8]

Not only does this impact on students’ wellbeing and quality of life, but students experiencing mental health problems are more likely to leave their studies prematurely and experience problems entering the workforce [9]. Therefore, it’s important to take a holistic approach when considering what a successful student looks like.


WHAT HELPS STUDENTS IN THEIR STUDIES?

At The Skill Collective, we consider student success not to reflect just how well they study, but how well they are in life more generally. We recognise that being a student is a transitional time in life during which students can also build skills to help set them up for life at work and outside of work. Many of our team have worked with students for several years, and these are the things we recommend students work on for their student life now, and for their future selves:

  • Choosing the right study skills can have big impact not only on academic performance, but also to help you combat study fatigue! Check out our blog post on How to Choose the Right Study Techniques to help you study smarter, not harder. Our Nimble Noodle online study course can also help.

  • Get in the right mindset for studying. Your mindset can have a powerful impact over our performance [10]. This is particularly true for students! Check out our Resource Library for our tip sheet on Mindset (Fixed vs. Growth mindset).

  • Managing intense emotions that have the potential to derail your progress. In particular, managing anxiety is a really important skill for students, with a recent survey finding that around 80% of tertiary students felt their anxiety and/or stress affected their studies [11]. Check out our article for pointers on How to Manage Anxiety on Campus and make a start on feeling better.

  • Manage exam anxiety through applying study techniques, preparing adequately for exams, and learning how to manage the physical and cognitive symptoms of anxiety. Check out our blog post on 6 sure-fire way to manage Exam Stress and if your exam anxiety is so intense that it interferes with your performance, visit our information page on Exam Anxiety and look into the Exam Anxiety module in our Nimble Noodle online study course.

  • Work on your public speaking technique. It’s is a skill you’ll drawn on time and time again both in their studies (presentations and class participation), at work in the future, and in life more generally. If public speaking anxiety is an issue, check out Speaking Volumes.

  • Some of the most important things for staying healthy, are also the most basic! Check out our blog post on the Essential Ingredients for Staying Healthy at University for tips on maintaining a resilient body and a clear mind.

  • Finally, let’s not focus just on these few years of study, but look longer-term and build skills that will increase your employability, build a career, and manage your life in the future. Check out our Guide to Student Success.


RESOURCES FOR STUDENTS

 

Here at The Skill Collective we love working with students, and recognise that sometimes a bit of help can go a long way. Below are some resources we’ve put together based on our work with students over the years. We hope they help students make the most of their studies and beyond.

 
 

1.NIMBLE NOODLE (study and exam preparation course)

Nimble Noodle is an online study and exam preparation course developed by our own clinical psychologist Dr Joyce Chong, together with GP Dr Kevin Yong from Eat Move Chill and Floreat Medical. Nimble Noodle helps students build the academic, physical, and psychological skills to help with their studies. There are three sections to Nimble Noodle, each with the right mix of ingredients to help students make it to the finish line:

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In the Prep section we cover skills that lay the groundwork for a good study year, including getting into the right mindset for studying, focusing on study skills that help you process and remember information better. We cover Perfectionism in a bonus module too!

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In the Cook section we cover skills to help students stay on track for the finish line, and covers how to maintain your physical health (when you’re a busy, time-poor student!), how to enhance your productivity, and how to avoid burnout.

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In the Plate Up section we cover the business-end of studies, including Exam Preparation (with Exam Planner), and all important tips on how to manage Exam Anxiety. The final module covers exactly how we would work with students to manage exam anxiety.


2. A guide to student success

Whereas Nimble Noodle focuses on helpful students succeed in the studies and course, The Skill Collective’s Guide to Student Success helps students to think beyond their course and plan their future life. We feel it’s a great complement to what’s outlined in Nimble Noodle. In our Guide to Student Success we talk about future-life plans such as:

  • Setting a path to student success so you can be ‘job-ready’ at the end of your studies

  • Essential skills for student life (and beyond), including academic, personal, and skills to help manage your life (i.e. ‘adulting’)

  • Student wellbeing and mental health

  • What’s in our Toolkit for Success as a Student

  • Our Go-To Resource List

Here’s a sneak peek of our free downloadable Guide to Student Success, and you can find it using this link.

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3. Our articles for Students (from our blog)

We’ve written about different student topics over the years on The Skill Collective’s Blog. Here’s a look at what we’ve covered.


4. SPEAKING VOLUMES (managing public speaking anxiety)

Public speaking is a source of anxiety for many, but for students it is often tied up in assessments and evaluation. Performing poorly in a presentation can significantly affect your grade, and feeling anxious about speaking up in a group can harm your marks when there is a class participation component to your grade. Learn more about Speaking Volumes here.

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5. Tips for student life in coronavirus times

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Students are currently facing a great deal of upheaval due to coronavirus. Schools and campuses face a delicate balancing act of remaining open vs. moving to online lessons, and students are learning to adapt to the shifting landscape.

Now more than ever it’s important for students to manage their own learning and to be independent students, and balance this with staying psychological and physically well, and socially connected, during a global pandemic!

With that in mind, why not check out our downloadable Tips for Student Life in Coronavirus Times with thanks to Nimble Noodle.


6. Our team at The skill collective

And if you’d like a tailored plan to help you manage all aspects of student life better, why not Contact Us? We have a particular passion for working with student issues. Things we help students with include:

  • Managing social anxiety to improve the student experience in classes, lectures group assignments, public speaking, and socially.

  • Decreasing panic symptoms and feeling overwhelmed.

  • Managing exam and performance anxiety (eg. with practical exams).

  • Managing mood and its impact on studies.

  • Communication skills to help work more harmoniously and productively with other students.

  • Study skills, time management, goal setting and procrastination.

  • Shifting perfectionism to avoid self-sabotaging studies.

  • Building a resilient mindset.

 


REFERENCES

[1] Kruisselbrink Flatt, A. 2013. A Suffering Generation: Six factors contributing to the mental health crisis in North American higher education. College Quarterly, 16.

[2] Universities Australia (2018). 2017 Universities Australia student finances survey. Retrieved from Analysis and Policy Observatory Website: https://apo.org.au/node/186561

[3] Browne, V., Munro, J., & Cass, J. (2017). Under the Radar: The Mental Health of Australian University Students. JANZSSA-Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association25(2), 2617.

[4] Mulder, A. M., & Cashin, A. (2015). Health and wellbeing in students with very high psychological distress from a regional Australian university. Advances in Mental Health13(1), 72-83.

[5] Forbes-Mewett, H., & Sawyer, A. M. (2011). Mental health issues amongst international students in Australia: Perspectives from professionals at the coal-face. In Proceeding from The Australian Sociological Association Conference Local Lives/Global Networks. Goldberg, D.(1978). Manual of the General Health Questionnaire: Nfer.

[6] Lawrence D, Johnson S, Hafekost J, Boterhoven De Haan K, Sawyer M, Ainley J, Zubrick SR (2015) The Mental Health of Children and Adolescents. Report on the second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Department of Health, Canberra.

[7] Orygen (2017). Under the radar: The mental health of Australian university students. Melbourne: Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health.

[8] Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Merikangas, K. R., & Walters, E. E. (2005). Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of general psychiatry62(6), 593-602.

[9] Stallman, H. M. (2008). Prevalence of psychological distress in university students--implications for service delivery. Australian Family Physician, 37, 673-7.

[10] Dweck, C.S., Walton, G.M., & Cohen, G.L. (2014). Academic tenacity: Mindsets and skills that promote long-term learning. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED576649.pdf

[11] Rickwood, D., Telford, N., O’Sullivan, S., Crisp, D., & Magyar, R. (2016). National tertiary student wellbeing survey 2016. Canberra, ACT, Australia: Headspace.