“The institution should be actively alert to changes in behavior, mood, repeated absences or problems in student performance,” said Isaías Sharon, a specialist in education and mental health.
While entering higher education opens up great opportunities, it also involves coping with the challenges of the transition to adulthood. This period of “emerging adulthood” (18-28 years of age) is often accompanied by a distance from families and places of origin, the need to balance studies with employment, economic difficulties and uncertainty about the future, among others.
According to the study “Diagnosis of the prevalence of mental health disorders in university students and associated emotional risk factors” in Chile there is a high rate of anxious and depressive symptomatology in this population, particularly among female students, being higher than the national average in the corresponding age groups.
Isaías Sharon, psychologist, Doctor in education and new technologies and founder of HPI International, assured that the current figures show that in the last year the licenses associated with mental health problems in higher education students doubled.
“It is quite worrying because this leads to students today with high levels of stress, with panic crisis problems, with depression crises, also with ideation (which is the prelude to suicide) and with suicide attempts, which many of them materialize in self-harm. The latter have also increased up to three times in relation to previous years”, said the expert in education and mental health.
When asked about what higher education institutions should do, Sharon expressed that “although it is not the focus of the institution to attend to this, what it should do is to prevent it and for that the first thing is to measure and recognize what the state is in relation to the mental health and well-being of the students”. The problem, he said, is that the institutions do not have the technological tools or the operational capacity to do this.
“The institution should be actively alert to changes in behavior, mood, repeated absences or problems in the performance of students who previously did not have this problem in order to be able to provide timely help and, on the other hand, incorporate new technological processes that help to do this in volume,” concluded the expert.