The study, published by Barmer health insurance provider last week, found that depression, anxiety disorders and panic attacks among young people are on the increase.
About 17 percent of students who were previously regarded as healthy are now affected by a mental illness, according to the study. This corresponds to almost half a million (around 470,000) people.
Between 2005 and 2016, the proportion of 18- to 25-year-olds diagnosed with mental illnesses in Germany rose by 38 percent. These figures are published in Barmer’s report of the study.
“Many signs show that there will be significantly more mentally ill young people in the future,” said Dr. Christoph Straub, CEO of Barmer.
“Especially among prospective students, pressure having to do with time and one’s performance is constantly increasing and financial worries and fears about the future are added to this,” the CEO said.
Another finding of the study is that the risk of depression among students increases significantly with age; young students were found to be less at risk than older students.
In order to avoid possible mental health cases later on, the health insurance provider recommends that young adults – particularly those who have already experienced depression or anxiety – take advantage of online or in-person resources at an early stage.
While more than a quarter (28 percent) of young people seek the help of a therapist in the event of a case of mild depression, many who should do not. “Out of shame, those affected often avoid going to the doctor,” said Straub.
“We therefore see great potential in online services, especially if they are anonymous and cater to the smartphone generation,” he added.
Barmer not only carries out research into how to reach out to young people with a mental health issues earlier on, it also supports a nationwide research project – funded by the World Health Organization (WHO) – on the mental health of students called StudiCare.
Depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide and more than 300 million people are now living with the illness, according to WHO.
“Lack of support for people with mental disorders, coupled with a fear of stigma, prevent many from accessing the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives,” WHO writes on its website.
Barmer health insurance compiled anonymous data from around eight million insured people for the completion of the study. Each year Barmer’s annual study has a different focus.