According to mental health charity Mind, 1 in 4 people in the UK suffer from mental health issues every year, with university students in particular being some of the most vulnerable.
There are many reasons as to why this might be the case. There is a sudden lifestyle transition comes with moving to university, where you’re likely living away from home for the first time, surrounded by people you don’t know. This, combined with a plethora of new-found responsibilities such as managing your own finances and effectively managing your time for independent study – can all be extremely overwhelming for any new student.
Your university days are often referred to as some of the best times of your life, yet often the pressure to feel like you’re always enjoying yourself and appreciating every single moment of your time as a student can do nothing but add to the ever-growing problem.
If you, or perhaps even someone you know, is currently struggling with mental health issues at university, here are just a few important things you should always remember.
1. Mental health is just as important as physical health.
It really goes without saying that mental illnesses should be treated just as physical illnesses are. According to research, a truly staggering number of university students do not seek any form of help for their struggles with mental health because they are embarrassed, or because many of them do not believe they are “unwell enough” to do so.
Ignoring or overlooking your mental health for any reason will do nothing but have an even further detrimental effect on your well-being. Doctors and mental health support services are there to help everyone. Just because you do not have any physical ailments does not mean you are not worthy of help when you need it. You matter and you are important.
2. Self-care is just as important as uni work.
Practising self-care is something that is so simple, yet so easy to neglect. Life at university can be incredibly fast paced, with intensive study and deadlines to meet. Whilst striving for excellence in the academic side of university is great – burning the candle at both ends and not taking any time out for yourself can have a drastic effect on your well-being.
As often as you can, take time to care for yourself in whatever way is best for you. Whether it’s taking a night off and binge-watching Netflix with your pals, doing something you love, or practising relaxation techniques such as mindfulness – self-care is necessary.
3. Your university is there to help you.
Thankfully, these days, it is more common than ever for universities to have mental health professionals and support services on hand to provide help for any students who may be struggling. It’s worth investigating exactly what services your university has to offer, as you might find that the waiting times are much shorter than what you might find on the NHS.
Be sure not to overlook your personal tutor, either. It is their job is to be available for your personal well-being, just as much as your academic performance. Reaching out to them could help to alleviate any stresses you might be feeling as a result of your workload.
4. You don’t have to give in to peer pressure.
As fun an experience as university can be, with all of the socialising you’ll do and new experiences you’ll inevitably have – it can become very easy to feel pressured to participate in activities that you don’t necessary want to participate in, perhaps out of FOMO, embarrassment or fear of disappointing other people. Though it can be hard to say no, giving in to peer pressure serves no purpose for your well-being. Real friends will always understand and you will have so many other opportunities to enjoy yourself.
5. It’s a process, and seeking help is the first step.
If you are struggling with your mental health at university, it’s so important to remember that feeling better is a process, and seeking help is the first and most crucial step that you can take. There is no shame in facing the fact that you are not okay, and need support. It is something that will undoubtedly take time, but keep in mind that it will eventually pass.
6. You are not alone.
Perhaps one of the most important things to remember is that you are not alone. As cliche as the phrase may be, it’s true. There are so many others who have faced and who currently face similar struggles on a daily basis, and remembering this small but important detail can help you to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you are feeling low.
Some helpful links if you or someone you know is struggling: