06/04/2017 9:17 AM AEST | Updated 06/04/2017 10:23 AM AEST

One In Three Tertiary Students Thought About Suicide Last Year

Shocking Australian mental health study rings alarm bells.

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Shocking numbers of students are reporting poor mental health.

More than one in three young students in Australia thought about suicide or self-harm last year, an alarming mental health study has found.

Mental health organisation Headspace and the National Union of Students released the findings on Thursday, from a survey of 2600 university and TAFE students nationwide. Just 1.6 percent of those surveyed experienced no mental health problems in the previous year, while 70 percent rated their mental health as poor or fair -- the bottom two of five options available.

More than 35 percent said they had thought about suicide of self-harm in the last year. Nearly 80 percent felt anxious; 83 percent felt stressed; 59 percent reported feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness; and 55 percent had trouble sleeping.

"Like all big life transitions, after finishing Year 12 young people can be more vulnerable. They are an at-risk group with no clear check-in point for mental health difficulties," Headspace CEO Jason Trethowan said.

"They might have moved out of home for the first time, they might have greater responsibilities financially, and domestically. Some young people might engage in risky behaviours such as drug use. They may have less parental contact leaving them vulnerable and changes in their mental health going unnoticed. They are a group that can fall through the cracks."

This survey is the first time the annual NUS survey has focused on mental health. The survey also found more than 82 percent of students experienced a lack of energy or motivation, 76 percent felt low moods, and 53 percent experienced panic.

NUS welfare officer Jill Molloy said students often experience many new pressures all at once when growing up and beginning tertiary study.

"Workload, looming deadlines, relationship problems, financial difficulties, drug and alcohol use. It's a long list that students themselves say have a detrimental impact," she said.

"This is why we have partnered with Headspace to bring these issues to light."

Headspace will be working closely with the NUS to provide more information about mental health services for students. Headspace has also published a series of mental health tips on its website.

"Young people need to know that Headspace is here to help. We have 99 centres across Australia, as well as the online and over the phone counselling service, eHeadspace," Trethowan said.

If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondBlue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

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