Identifying Students' Mental Health
Problems in Primary Care Settings
The period of life as a student in higher education can encompass many ages, but usually starts from the age of 16 years and upwards. There is no formalised and defined upper limit, although most students in higher education will have completed A level or equivalent examinations by 19 years, and their undergraduate degree courses by the age of 23 years. Clearly, older people can still be students, either as post-graduates or entering higher education as mature students up to any age. Furthermore, there are child 'prodigies' who do attend university at increasingly younger ages. This chapter will focus mainly on the primary mental health needs of students in the typical age range of 16 to 23 years, although it is worth emphasising that, in many ways, some of the issues will have relevance for other age groups.
Higher education is seen as a more stressful experience for present-day students in many ways, with apparent increasing competition for places, increasing competition with and between peers while on any course, and more perceived pressures to obtain good grades. Allied to this is the perennial problem with poor finances for students (as described by Roberts and Zelenyanszki in this volume), problems of living either at home or away from home (each has difficulties for young people), and pressures to find and maintain relationships. It is not surprising that for many students the