Student debt and mental health

Student debt and mental health

Graduation season is an exciting time for everyone, especially you and your child. It’s a moment oozing with anticipation for what’s ahead as students embark on their desired career paths. However, while it’s an important and exciting time, it can also be one that brings considerable hardship. If your children are like most post-secondary students, they will be carrying student debt after graduation. This is totally normal.

However, when it comes to student loans, too much debt can affect your child’s mental health. You want your child to feel excited about graduating. So, in order to ensure they have a positive outlook on life when that day comes, it’s important to consider how you can help them prevent and manage the mental anguish.

How graduating with debt affects students mentally

Recent grads often face the challenge of a low starting salary and high student debt immediately after graduation. This challenging start to their new life can have significant affects on their mental health, with many feeling the sting of having to chip away at their debt with very little to do so. According to a 2015 study looking at responses from 8,000 recent graduates, students with the most debt were more likely to suffer mental health issues early on in life versus the ones who had less debt.

Solutions to prevent and help manage this

To help address student debt and mental health, colleges and universities have taken a proactive approach by introducing courses to help improve the financial literacy of students. With better financial literacy skills, students can feel better equipped to manage the student debt that they have while in school and after graduating.

Universities, like UofT for instance, have also been training their financial services staff to do a better job identifying mental stress from student debt and referring students for further help.

With the link between student debt and mental health clearer these days, colleges and universities have also been working to develop wellness strategies to provide students with the help that they need.

What parents can do to help

As a parent, you can also help alleviate some of the stress your child may feel. The easiest way to do this is to help them financially plan for their future from an early age. By opening an RESP and contributing to their education savings early on, you can ensure your child enters post-secondary school with confidence and graduates with a positive outlook towards their future, knowing that they do not have large debts to worry about.

It’s never too late to open an RESP if you haven’t already. However, the earlier you start, the more time you will have to not only save but also earn grant money on your contributions.

With some careful planning and support, you can help make all the difference in your child’s life.