A new digital platform was launched by the Flemish Government on Tuesday in response to research showing that students are struggling with their mental health more than ever.
The platform, named MoodSpace, will give students access to a wide range of support services and provide them with reliable information about mental health. It will make information easily accessible at a time when more students are suffering from anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions as a result of the pandemic.
“Student life is often romanticised. Students all have ‘the best time of their lives’, so to speak. As a result, in the past, there was little attention paid to the mental well-being of students,” Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts stated in a press release.
“The coronavirus crisis has woken many people up. We are now seizing the momentum to work on a policy for the mental wellbeing of students.”
Almost half of students at the University of Antwerp (UAntwerpen) struggled with feelings of depression at the end of the last school year, mainly as a result of the pandemic. Three in four students at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) said they felt lonely as a result of the pandemic.
Research has also shown that as many as 75% of all mental problems arise before the age of 25, which is why the Flemish government is looking to tackle the issue at an earlier stage, in part with the launch of MoodSpace.
Science meets peer support
The interactive platform brings together the knowledge of different academic disciplines and highlights where students can access free help services, boasts an information library and allows students to fill out an anonymous mental health test.
Students can also share their experiences or listen to the stories of others. The platform also links to various initiatives set up by them to help their peers whose mental health comes under pressure during what is already a turbulent period in a person’s life (coronavirus pandemic notwithstanding).
The launch of the platform, which the government hopes will encourage discussion of mental health, coincides with the “block” or exam period of students, which often exacerbates the pressure on the mental health of students, and is part of the rollout of a Flanders-wide policy for the mental well-being of students.
“Mental health will never again be a blind spot. We will keep our finger on the pulse and continue to take measurements among students,” Weyts concluded.