University can be an incredibly stressful time. Whether you’re a first year trying to find your feet or a third year powering through on your final exams, the pressure on students can get quite overwhelming. In fact, 1 in 4 students now experience mental health problems at university, a survey by Save the Student has found. In the same survey, studying and workload were reported to have the biggest impact on student mental health, however, employability and social factors were also found to have an effect. So, when it comes to student mental health issues, how can you ensure that your wellbeing is looked after?
1: Keep a Mood Journal
It can be useful to keep a track of your mood on a daily basis, particularly if you suffer with anxiety or depression. This will help you to identify any triggers that may be contributing to low mood or anxiety, which is particularly useful if you can’t quite put your finger on why you feel so low. If you notice a dip in your mood or a surge in anxiety, make a note of any events that have happened that day and you may be able to gain a little insight into your symptoms. You can also go old school too with some good old fashioned journalling. Whether you go with bullet points or a full on brain dump, writing how you feel and just getting your thoughts onto paper (or screen, whatever you prefer) can be really useful in clearing your head and taking the pressure off.
2: Ask for Help if You Need It
While we’ve come a long way in the last couple of years when it comes to reducing the stigma around mental health, a lot of us are still reluctant to ask for help when we need it. However, they say a problem shared is a problem halved, and this is exactly right when it comes to mental health. Most universities will have student mental health services available, such as counselling and support groups, however this can vary depending on your institution. You may find there’s a bit of a wait, or that you’re restricted to a set amount of sessions, but seeking out help from your student wellbeing service is a step in the right direction. Remember, these services are completely confidential and usually free of charge, and they’re there to ensure that your mental health is taken care of. It can be easy to just brush off how you’re feeling or just to ‘power through,’ but putting too much pressure on yourself is never a good idea. If you don’t feel ready to speak to someone face to face, there’s plenty of mental health organisations around that you can speak to over the phone for confidential support.
3: Ensure a Good Supply of Your Medication
If you already have a diagnosis of a mental illness and take regular medication, ensure that you’re well stocked. If you stay registered with your GP surgery in your hometown rather than closer to where you’re studying, the key thing is to stay organised! Arrange any appointments well before you’re due to run out of medication and keep track of your prescription supply so you have plenty of time to reorder your repeats if you need to.
4: Self Care
Yes, you may have deadlines to work towards but all the powering through in the world will get you nowhere and you’ll eventually end up feeling burnt out AF. Trust me, I’ve been there. Take a little time out here and there when you need it, even if it’s just closing the textbooks for an hour and watching a bit of Netflix. You don’t have to spend days on end practising self care, but make sure you schedule in some time for something.
5: Don’t Isolate Yourself
When you’re feeling low, it’s so easy to lock yourself away and huddle up under the duvet. While sometimes a duvet day is what you need, getting into the habit of it and isolating yourself may end up doing more harm than good. If your friend invites you to their halls for a cup of tea, take them up on the offer! If your housemates are off to the pub, go with them! While sometimes the thought of going out and talking to people can be daunting, and it may seem like the last thing you want to do, spending time with your friends and having a laugh can be the best medicine!
How did you take care of your mental health at university? What tips did you find most useful?