Disability and mental health

In Section 1, you heard students talk about the impact of caring on their own health and wellbeing. In this video, Bethany talks about the impact on her mental health.

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Video 2.3  Impact on mental health
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Student carers and mental health

While students have told us about the impact of caring on their mental health, it is difficult to obtain data on this for university students. The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) began collecting data on carers from universities in the academic year 2018–19. This data is classified as ‘experimental’ as some universities have just begun to identify and ‘flag’ carers.

In order to illustrate the incidence of mental health and disability among student carers, we have used SFC data from Scotland’s colleges, which have more established reporting mechanisms.

The table below shows that student carers have a higher rate of disability compared to their peers, with 29.2% of carers declaring a disability compared to 20.3% of non-carers. The table also shows that a higher proportion of student carers reported having multiple disabilities (9.8%), mental health difficulties (6.9%) or dyslexia (6.8%) (SFC, forthcoming, p. 4).

Table 2.1  Enrolments of student carers by disability on courses 160 hours +, 2018–19 with overall success rate, College Carers Data 2018–19 (SFC, forthcoming)

DisabilityCarers%Non-carers%Carers proportion successful
Unseen disability1101.3%1,205  1.1%72.5%
Mental health difficulties5606.9%4,005  3.6%66.6%
Wheelchair user/have mobility difficulties550.7%865  0.8%66.1%
Social/communication impairment700.9%1,905  1.7%76.4%
Dyslexia5506.8%6135  5.6%67.3%
Blind/are partially sighted150.2%205  0.2%**
Deaf/have a hearing impairment350.4%425  0.4%69.4%
Other1702.1%1,885  1.7%81.4%
Multiple disabilities7959.8%5,625  5.1%68.1%
No known disability5,74070.8%87,495  79.7%74.8%
Total8,100100%109,755  100%73.1%

** Successful completion percentage masked as they are calculated on small numbers.

Gender, culture and caring

Impact of COVID-19