Earlier in November I spoke to students, parents, and universities, as part of the government's Talk Money Week. The conclusion? It is starkly apparent that all of us with children studying at university - or whose children one day hope to - must do more to talk about students, mental health, and money.

As someone with extensive experience in the wellbeing of university students, the national state of student mental health is worse than any time in my twenty years of clinical work.

The recent Kortext State of UK Student Mental Health research revealed that nearly one-third of students have been diagnosed with a mental health condition. That is significantly more than the national average.

And financial anxiety is playing a major part of this negative spiral.

Things were already difficult pre-pandemic, with tuition fees rising to more than £9,000 a year, future home-ownership seemingly out of reach, and hidden costs, such as textbooks, adding on thousands.

This financial uncertainty had become one of the most common factors in my case work with students -- leading in some cases to extreme mental health breakdowns.

However, this economic pressure has massively increased since the first lockdown as, unlike other sectors, most students received no financial support. Worse still, many had to continue paying for housing they could not live in and face-to-face lectures they could not attend, come what may.

Students told us in the annual National Student Survey that they were unhappy with their universities' responses to blended learning, citing value for money as being a real issue. This in turn has had a significant impact on their mental health, and we cannot afford to turn our back on our young people when they need us most.

It is likely that this generation will be the one that pays for the pandemic, literally. It is time now to focus on how we can support them.

As a starting point, please can we all simply start to have open conversations with our children about their education finances?

Money talk is still taboo for many in our society - even in close families - and if Talk Money Week allows us to open up those conversations, then that alone would make a real difference towards better financial and mental wellbeing for the students in our lives.

If we don't, we will be letting down a generation.

We must act now. Please start those conversations with the students in your life today.

Dr Dominique Thompson

Student Mental Health Campaigner, and Clinical Advisor for Student Minds