In brief: Mental health affects students’ academics, says health report

Courtesy of UBC Learning Commons via Flickr Creative Commons

(Courtesy of UBC Learning Commons via Flickr Creative Commons)

By Robyn Fiorda & Shaian Martin

The start of a new semester can be an exciting time for many students. However, stress and anxiety are among top factors affecting university students’ academic performance.

According to a 2016 National College Health Assessment by the Canadian Association of Universities and Colleges, stress and anxiety are among top factors affecting university students’ academic performance.  

The report focuses on current health trends within campus communities. It revealed that 28 per cent of those surveyed said anxiety caused a lower grade on an exam or assignment, or resulted in an incomplete or dropped course in the past year. Another 39 per cent of students named stress as the reason for a decline in academic performance.

“If you’re not healthy it will impact your academic success,” said Janine Robb, executive director of health and wellness at the University of Toronto, who worked on the assessment.

Within the last year, 64.5 per cent of students reported feeling “overwhelming anxiety,” but only 12 per cent of students reported being diagnosed or seen by a professional for the issue.

Robb said the report’s finding have been consistent the last four years, but said he was surprised by a four per cent increase in the number of students with suicidal thoughts. Robb said this could be due to the destigmatization of mental health on campus, making students more comfortable with reporting their thoughts.

The National College Health Assessment was published on Sept. 7 and includes information from more than 43,000 post-secondary students from across Canada.

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