RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • This major new report reveals that many university students are struggling with loneliness and declining mental health.
  • COVID-19 has played a significant role in eroding students’ wellbeing, with 80% saying that it contributed to their poor mental health.
  • Virtually all universities provide mental health support, but most students aren’t utilising the services on offer.
  • To address the research findings, Accenture has proposed a framework for universities to help address student mental health and wellbeing.


During their university years, young people should be exploring academic interests in depth, making life-long friends, and attaining new levels of independence—with joy.

Yet according to our new study, conducted in partnership with Cibyl, many are struggling with the pressure to achieve, finding it hard to make good friends and experiencing challenges with their mental health. The pandemic made an already difficult situation even worse.

There’s no doubt that university leaders throughout the UK want to support student mental health and have taken steps to do so. However, our research revealed that the half of our students didn't feel their mental health was supported at university and many are reluctant, or unable, to access the care they need. We must work smarter to help these young people—our future parents, workers and leaders—achieve and sustain better mental health.

In that spirit, we present our findings and we also propose five specific interventions. Our hope is to help universities better understand student mental health, and accordingly, change the way they support student wellbeing, so that students are equipped to realise their most promising futures.

"Our research reveals that – despite the resources and support services universities provide – university is not a dream experience for everyone and there’s a significant disconnect between the experiences of different students."

– BARBARA HARVEY, Managing Director

The isolation currently felt by students appears to be contributing significantly towards declining mental health.

24%

of students don't have any real friends at university, even into their second and third years.

39%

of students reported a deterioration in their mental health since starting university.

80%

of students say the pandemic contributed to their declining mental wellbeing.

55%

of our respondents said they feel lonely daily or weekly.

Barbara Harvey

Managing Director — Accenture Research


Dasha Karzunina

Head of Research at Cibyl

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