Mental Health crisis solved through emotional education


Adding emotional education to the university curriculum would reverse the mental health crisis, according to UK students.

Some 96 percent of UK students believe universities should offer ‘emotional education’ on the curriculum to help reverse the student mental health crisis, according to new research.

The survey, from students’ emotional fitness app Fika, polled 1,500 students and 100 employers on the need for formal emotional and social education at schools and universities.

Almost two thirds (65 percent) of students said receiving emotional education modules at university would help protect them from encountering mental health problems. More than half (52 percent) said it would help them better understand how to take care of themselves and each other.

77 percent of students found the transition into university difficult, according to Fika’s study, with one in five (20 percent) recalling it as “very difficult”. 60 percent said they had received no advice on how to deal with this transition.

Almost a third (28 percent) said academic pressure had led to them feeling isolated, damaging their personal relationships. 17 percent said “work has taken over my life”.

97 percent of students felt receiving some formal education at university in how to build key life skills like resilience, confidence and self-motivation would be beneficial to them, Fika’s study found.

Nine in ten (88 percent) worry they will leave university emotionally unequipped for “the real world of work”. 57 percent feel universities are “not doing enough” to arm students with the emotional skills they will need to thrive at work.

A staggering 99 percent of the employers Fika surveyed said offering students emotional and social education as part of the curriculum would improve their chances of career success.

95 percent said they would like to see young people arriving in the workforce with better emotional and social skills, and 87 percent felt graduates often lack the emotional skills they need to thrive at work.

The Fika app offers hundreds of simple, evidence-based emotional exercise programmes, all co-created with students to help them cope with the specific challenges of university life. These programmes are designed to protect students’ mental health, and arm them with the tools they need to thrive, at university and beyond.

The Department for Education has unveiled plans to make wellbeing modules universal in schools from September 2020, but there are no current plans to make them universal at university.

Last year, the University of Bristol became the first UK university to offer optional Science of Happiness courses as part of the curriculum. The Oxford Mindfulness Centre offers courses for students and staff at the University of Oxford, and other psycho-educational initiatives are beginning to be introduced across the sector.

In November, Fika will host a higher education think tank, bringing together leaders from across the sector to debate how universities can build a brighter future for student wellbeing.

Fika is an education technology company arming university students with the tools they need to thrive, at university and beyond. The Fika app provides regular five-minute emotional workouts designed to build students’ resilience, focus, confidence, empathy and active listening skills – aiming to improve student attainment, retention, employability and work-life balance, as well as encouraging social inclusion at universities.