Today I would like to touch on an issue that is so often forgotten about. That is the mental health of students who have completed their degree. Now, you would think that the health of these ex-students would improve now that they have less stress from assignments, exams and their dissertation. You would also think that because they are moving back home (for the majority) that they would be feeling great to be around family and friends again.
However, this often isn't the case for ex-students. Don't get me wrong I know that quite a few students end up staying in their uni town due to jobs, liking of the location and partners or friend they have chosen to live with. Even so for these individuals they might not be as relieved or as happy as they appear.
Unfortunately, with some ex-students they are often exposed to stressors which lead to the development of stress and depression. Whilst I was at University I found that myself and other people I knew were anxious and excited about finishing University but terrified to hell about what would happen next.This including, but not limited to; where to live, finding a job, staying in contact with friends, what steps to take to pursue a career in the field that had been studied over the past three years. Then there was if all the stress and anxiety was worth it after coming out of the three years with a piece of paper and a job in a completely different area.
This is the main concern with many students that they have spent such a long time in studying and they are challenged finding a job in their field. The worst part is when you find a relevant job and the role requires at least 10 years experience (not to exaggerate...). Thus leading to the development of several factors including; worthlessness, low self-esteem, all factors that contribute towards the development of depression within these individuals. Which, lets face it, is the complete opposite of what is expected when University ends.
Whilst most Universities talk about what your life will be like whilst studying at your chosen institute, they do not tend to talk about life after. The only thing you really hear from Universities is how many students are in jobs after they have finished the course, not even jobs related to what students are studying. The most contact you receive from a University will usually be a phone call 6 months later asking if you enjoyed the course, whether or not you have a job in the area that you have studied and whether your course helped you to get your job. For the majority of graduates the answers to the last two would be no to both.
It is all good and well asking these questions in order to record statistics of students going into employment after University. Don't get me wrong, I understand the importance of these surveys as they are key factors in helping students decide which University to go to. However, these surveys are done by strangers who don't know these graduates. Not by any lectures who were there to help you by through assignments and your dissertation throughout your time at the University. Not done by someone who you got to know over the years, but by a stranger who looked up your name on a piece of paper. Then it makes you feel as though the whole 3 years or so of studying was not as personal as the leaflets and brochures made it out to be, but simply a way of getting statistics for the success rate of the University. As you can imagine, feeling as just another statistic rather than an individual, as though you are nothing, can also contribute to the development of stress and depression.
'Was it worth it?', a question that often runs around the minds of those who have either recently finishes University or even 3, 6, 9, 12 months down the line. Those three years or so of hard work when you end up coming out with a piece of paper, no specialised job and a hell of a lot of debt. Depending on where you live in the country this debt can range from £20, 000 - £60, 000 (if not more). Now, can you imagine having this much debt then to come out of University questioning if it was even worth it? Or was it just three years of your life just wasted away as you put your life on hold. When you could have been doing so much more? As these thoughts go round your head you start to feel less successful and as though you have let those around you down. Every so often you think you've let yourself down by not having the career you have studied for and want. Leading to stronger feelings that have a severe detrimental impact on an individuals mental health.
As you can see this is a huge problem that affects many across the country but it is so often unknown. There needs to be some change in the support for graduates or more so just generally support. So that graduates can also have a better mental state and the support to help prevent stressors towards depression and stress. More so the improvement of options and guidance to help pursue their dream careers.
In the mean time, for those of you who are struggling with any of these issues, 'Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.'. When I am feeling as though I have wasted my past few years my fiance quotes this back to me and it does often help. Keep working towards that dream job of yours and you will get there eventually, one step at a time.
Please feel free to leave any comments about your experiences and how you got on after University.