Nearly one in five university students suffers from some form of depression, said the John Tung Foundation, which suggested that schools promote sports and other activities to help students deal with stress and emotional problems.
According to a survey released by the foundation on Thursday, 18.7 percent of university students were found to feel depressed and have emotional problems.
That meant that about 250,000 students suffer from such problems based on a total of 1.35 million people currently attending universities nationwide, the foundation estimated.
The survey suggested that depression was more evident in female students than their male counterparts, with 19.8 percent of females and 17.4 of males experiencing problems related to depression and stress.
Yeh Ya-hsin (葉雅馨), head of the foundation’s mental health section, said depression was more prevalent in women than in men, and this was the same in other countries.
“Students who have part-time jobs are also more depressed when compared with those who do not work part-time. This is likely due to the difficulty of balancing the requirements of school and work,” she said.
“Pressure from both school and work often makes students highly stressed,” she added.
In light of the survey results, experts suggested youngsters take up sports and leisure activities to relieve stress.
The survey showed 78.1 percent of university students exercise less than three times per week and 72.6 percent exercise for less than one hour each time they exercise.
The survey also showed that 87.4 percent of respondents believe they felt better after exercising and up to 91 percent said they took part in sports or did exercise when suffering from emotional problems.
Among those students who suffered from serious problems with depression and have sought professional help, 27 percent said they either exercised or played sports when they felt down.
Among them, 75.2 percent said they felt better after doing exercise.
The survey was conducted from May to June, with nearly 7,000 questionnaires distributed at 58 universities, the foundation said.
According to Yeh, exercise and sports can increase the level of adrenalin and serotonin in the brain and these two components are the main neurotransmitters used by doctors for anti-depression treatment.
She suggested that students take up exercise and sports and share the positive effects with friends and colleagues, and added that this could greatly reduce the effects of depression and negative emotions.