To the kick off the UvA-wide Health Week, social sciences student Marlise Huijzer spoke about her bachelor thesis on mental health problems. ‘Talk about sadness and difficulties.’
What was your study about?
‘I focused on how students percieve talking about mental health problems. After in-depth interviews with seventeen students at the UvA, my conclusion was that while in theory they know that it’s good to talk about problems, ultimately they try to go it alone. Research showed that 46 percent of the students struggling with mental health issues do not seek help.’
Why is that?
‘For one thing, bachelor students have an average of only 15 contact hours a week, so they are expected to be independent. It’s also to do with the phase of adulthood they’re in. Students suddenly have to organise things like their own household and finances at the same time as their social networks become looser. A combination of these factors creates a ‘solve-it-yourself’ mentality. But reasearch shows that students also face negative reactions when they do talk about their problems.’
What could the UvA do?
‘Universities should better facilitate contact between teachers and students. The workload for teachers is too high — they need to be able to make the time to pay attention to students. This is not just the responsibility of university advisors and psychologists. I would like to talk to educational directors about the UvA’s policy to see if we can change something.’