Results fourth Caring Universities survey

12 July 2023

Student wellbeing is an important priority for universities, especially coming out of the corona period and dealing with its repercussions. Although there is a decline in the negative consequences of the pandemic, still a large group of students is struggling with psychological problems in the aftermath.

Caring Universities is a consortium in which the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Leiden University, Utrecht University, Maastricht University, the Erasmus University Rotterdam, InHolland university of applied sciences, Rotterdam university of applied science, Avans university of applied science and the University of Amsterdam, collaborate. Within this consortium, the mental health of students from these nine universities (of applied sciences) is explored and students are offered free tools to work on their mental health and increase their resilience.

From the fourth annual survey of the Caring Universities project that was conducted last November, it appears that many students report stress complaints, sleep problems, problematic procrastination, mood complaints and anxiety complaints. This is comparable to results found one year previous in November 2021, with only a 0.7% decrease in mood complaints and a 0.3% decrease in anxiety complaints. There is a difference in reported psychological complaints between different demographic groups. For example, female students, students identifying as other genders, bachelor students and international students report more psychological complaints (regarding depression, anxiety, stress and insomnia) compared to male, master level and Dutch students respectively.

The response rate of the survey was low (approximately 4.3 percent), so the results are potentially not representative for all students. More than half of the students who filled out the survey and did not receive help, reported to experience barriers such as wanting to solve their problems on their own and not knowing where to look when seeking help. So, many students need support and are currently not being reached. All participating universities (of applied sciences) within the Caring Universiteis consortium take this signal very serious and continuously work towards offering a broad scope of mental support and reaching more students who want help.

Caring Universities offers mental support via different online programs specifically designed for students by clinical and scientific experts. These are easily accessible, anonymous if preferred, and under the guidance of professional e-health coaches. Students can for example improve their self-esteem, combat procrastination and work on getting more grip on their life. These programs are positively evaluated by students, with 80% of users indicate being (very) satisfied. Soon new programs will be launched for dealing with social anxiety and improving social relationships.

The next survey is expected to be sent out in November in the academic year 2023-2024. For detailed study results, we refer to the study report.