Caring For Your Mental Health at University
A recent survey of 2,460 university students, conducted nationwide by The Student Housing Company, found that nearly half of students are keeping their mental health problems secret, saying they feel “too worried” or “too ashamed” to open up to friends or university staff.
University can be a particularly difficult time – the simultaneous change of routine and environment can present a number of challenges, which, in turn, can place pressure on your mental health. Managing these pressures and seeking help, if necessary, is essential.
Here are a few ways to ensure you care for your mental health and have the most enjoyable university experience you can.
Talk to Close Friends & Family
As nerve-wracking as it can be, talking to close friends or family members about how you’re feeling can provide enormous relief. It’s easy to feel isolated if you’re suffering from a mental illness, but mental health issues are affecting more and more people, so you may be surprised to find that whoever you talk to is experiencing (or has experienced) something similar. Either way, having someone you can confide in and talk to when you’re feeling low can be really beneficial.
Building a strong social circle at university isn’t always simple though – you might find it hard to pluck up the courage to meet people, or perhaps you feel that your mental health is holding you back. One of the great things about university is that you have plenty of opportunities to make friends and meet people afresh. Taking that first step, even if it means stepping outside of your comfort zone, can be really rewarding – consider signing up to a sports team or society, striking up a conversation with the person next to you in lectures, or even just popping the kettle on and making a coffee with your housemates.
Seek Support From Your University
Your university should have a specialist support team who are there to offer guidance throughout your time studying. If you’re worried that your mental health is affecting the success of your studies, it’s really important to talk to your university about this. The support team, working closely alongside your lecturers, may be able to adapt your study routine to your needs. This could include:
- Extensions on assignment deadlines
- More time during exams
- The chance to resit exams
- Special dispensation with marking
The sooner you make your university and lecturers aware that you are struggling, the smoother things will be. Even if you’re just having a little difficulty with a certain assignment or in understanding specific material on the course, it’s always worth approaching your lecturer to arrange a one-to-one meeting. Resolving these issues head-on can help to relieve the stress or panic that comes with meeting assignment deadlines and submitting work.
Balance Your Time
Trying to juggle your studies with social opportunities and your own hobbies at university can be exhausting, which is why it’s good to get the right balance from the start. Adjusting to a new study pattern can be overwhelming at first, but it’s important not to fall into the trap of overworking – staying up late to finish assignments, revising for hours without a break, or sitting in the library all day to go through your notes can actually be counterproductive. Likewise, compromising on your studies to go out with your friends every night can lead to a panicked last-minute rush to complete your work.
Make sure you structure your days to accommodate for both your studies and time out. Plan ahead for big assignment deadlines or exam periods well in advance, in order to loosen the pressure, but still allow for regular breaks where you can relax or enjoy time with your friends.
Staying Well at University
Taking care of your mental health is really important. Your time at university can be demanding in many respects, which can make you more vulnerable to mental health issues. Setting yourself a good routine and speaking up if you’re struggling can help you to better cope, both in the day-to-day and on a long-term basis.
For more advice on coping with mental health issues during your studies and for the full details of The Student Housing Company’s survey, take a look at their Mental Health & Wellbeing at University infographic.
A Bit About Our Contributor: The Student Housing Company
The Student Housing Company provides private student halls in cities across the UK and in Dublin, giving you a vibrant, social and comfortable place to stay during your time at university.