04:24 GMT +313 December 2019
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    UK Students Turn to Drink and Drugs to Cope With Issues of Debt

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    Student life has never been harder... Not only is the pressure to gain good grades, perform and secure a job at the end of your studies tougher then it has ever been, the difficulty that comes with paying student fees is driving many to turn to drink and drugs.

    Those students who are suffering from debt worries at university are more at risk of suffering from depression and alcohol dependency, according to new research by the University of Southampton and Solent NHS Trust. 

    The research found that symptoms of mental health conditions worsened over time for those who were struggling to pay their bills.

    Dr Thomas Richardson who led the study that was published online in the Community Mental Health Journal, believes that the cycle of anxiety and problem drinking were exacerbated by financial difficulties.

    "Interventions which tackle both difficulties at the same time are therefore most likely to be effective," Dr Richardson said.

    The researchers asked more than 400 first year undergraduate students from universities across the UK to assess a range of financial factors which included family affluence, any financial difficulties they may have faced and attitudes towards their finances, at different points across their first year at university.

    ​The study was designed to check on a number of time points to establish whether the financial difficulties or the poor mental health came first. The study also found that students who had considered not going to university or had considered abandoning their studies for financial reasons had a greater deterioration in mental health over time.

    Andy Jones, a student of occupational therapy, had to halt his studies because of depression and not being able to financially support himself.

    "When I was not very well, I was not able to work part-time so was unable to supplement my income during university, Mr Jones said.

    ​"Having financial difficulties increased my day-to-day stress levels and something usually had to give and it was usually my academic studies. It was a vicious cycle."

    ​Dr Richardson, who has conducted staff training at universities on debt and mental health, said that university is a stressful time and can be daunting for young people and their finances.

    "We might not be able to change how much debt students are in but we can work with them to help them manage their finances and worries about money in order to mitigate the impact of these worries on mental health."

    Nia Charpentier, spokeswoman for Rethink Mental Illness, said that the issues of mental health and money go hand in hand.

    "One in four people with a mental health problem also has debts, and one in two adults with debts also has a mental health problem."

    ​If it seems like it's all getting too much, it's important to remember that there is support available; for example, through Rethink Mental Illness's advice and information service.

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    Tags:
    students, report, research, education, debt, psychological problems, drugs, alcohol, depression, therapy, university, Great Britain, Europe, United Kingdom
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