One half (45%) of students in Slovenia describe their own mental health as poor or very bad. Particularly alarming: the state of health of female students is significantly worse than that of male students, both mentally and physically. Nevertheless, mental health is a very important topic for students. 70% of students rate mental and physical health as equally important. Socially, however, students still see mental health as a taboo subject.
All this is shown by the current Mental Health Barometer, for which more than 800 students in Slovenia were surveyed. The study was conducted for the first time jointly by Studo, the most widely used student app in Slovenia, and supported by the Slovenian Psychology Students' Association (DSPS). In addition to questions about mental health and stress, current world events also played a major role in this year's Mental Health Barometer, says Studo Managing Director Andraž Hajdenkumer: “After two years dominated by the COVID 19 pandemic, it is now topics like inflation that are affecting students and universities. 2022 was not an easy year in many respects – we noticed that in this survey as well: so many students participated in the Mental Health Barometer and shared their experiences. This feedback encourages us to continue to give students a voice and to work with decision-makers to help students.”
Four out of five students experience stress in their studies
Exams, work overload in their studies, students' financial situation and mental problems are the most common stress factors for Slovenian students in 2022. More than 82% of students currently feel stressed in their studies. Besides the stresses of studying, the COVID-19 pandemic still has a strong impact on students' mental health: 43% feel their mental health is affected by the pandemic. Current world events like inflation or the crisis in Ukraine affect the mental health of one third (33%) of the students.
Mental health: an important yet taboo topic
For 54% of the students surveyed, mental health is a societal taboo topic. Male students are significantly more likely to say that they feel like mental health is a social taboo. Still, the vast majority (71%) agrees that physical and mental health are equally important. Slovenian students currently only spend a maximum of one hour a week for their mental health – for example, in the form of reflection, meditation or psychological counseling. For physical health (sports, nutrition, etc.) and social health (e.g. meeting friends), on the other hand, they have significantly more time (on average 2-5 hours per week).
Mental challenges: Self-help vs. professional support
Three-quarters (76%) of students would seek professional help when facing mental challenges. Again, there is a gender gap: Female students would be more likely to seek help than male students.
Currently, students tackle mental challenges by using self-research (45%) or self-help (34%). More than one-third (37%) of respondents have not used any support services at all. If costs were not a factor, things would be different: In this case, students would prefer to use psychological student counseling, psychological therapy on site, or psychological online counseling.
"In Slovenia, the lack of regulation in the field of psychotherapy is still a major problem, leaving young people confused about where they can turn if they have issues. The private sector is also often financially inaccessible to young people, so a strong public network of trained psychotherapists and clinical psychologists is essential. Furthermore, young people should still be encouraged to take part in preventive activities that promote mental health and reduce the stigma of mental health problems in the public sphere," says Urška Filipič, president of the Slovenian Psychology Students' Association.
About this study
The Mental Health Barometer pursues the goal of a longitudinal study to survey the development of students' mental health. The study was conducted for the first time in Slovenia in 2022. During the survey period (from 18th to 23rd November 2022), 836 students participated in the survey. The survey is conducted annually by Studo – in addition to Slovenia, also in Austria and Germany.