Mental Health at University
The relationship between mental health and university students has become a pressing issue in the wake of COVID-19 Pandemic. With reports that 1 in 4 students experience mental health issues at university and the possibility that a higher number of people passed away in August 2020 due to suicide rather than COVID, it’s important for us to address how we can help those around us.
University can be a hard environmental for those struggling with their mental health, being both away from home and in a high stress environment. However, this is not a be all and end all! It is important to note that the majority of students with mental illnesses thoroughly enjoy their university experience (and you can too!). It is also important to reiterate that university is not for everyone and if you are struggling that is okay. If this is the case, please reach out to someone; we’ve included a list of people to go to and Charity helplines below…
We would also like to clarify that we are not recommending any specific solutions (as we are not medically qualified to do so). We are just outlining the different solutions available for your convenience.
Furthermore, although there is a lot of support out there on the internet for ‘quick destress techniques’, such as mindfulness, for people struggling with their mental health it’s not always as simple as a ‘quick fix’. Suggesting these ‘quick fixes’ to those suffering from mental health illnesses will not only be insensitive to what they are going through, it can also seem dismissive of the seriousness of their illness.
If you feel like you or a friend might be struggling with their mental illness or poor mental health here are some more useful ways to help …
What are some coping tools?
- Sing and Dance to your favourite songs, it doesn’t matter how you look or sound
- Take a look at photographs
- Kick, bounce or throw a ball
- Use a stress ball, top or fidget spinner
- Make Art
- Learn something new, this could be as a simple as a new word
- Take slow, mindful breaths
- Visualise a peaceful place or memory
- Do positive affirmation
- Make a collage or scrapbook
What are some positive affirmation and goals to keep me going?
The Depression Chronicles suggests thinking of one thing you are hoping to get done this week.
IC Reflections is a safe space for Imperial students to share their mental health experiences. They suggest “in the current situation with COVID it’s good to keep reminding yourself that no matter what you achieve in a day, you’ve accomplished something and you’re doing your best”. They encourage not to focus on mistakes, but rather reflect on the learning process. They also say to remember “that you’re on your own separate journey irrespective of other people!”
How can I reach out to someone that is isolating?
We spoke to Glasgow University’s Positive Minds about how to reach out to a student who is stuck in isolation. They recommended “Scheduled Video calls have also been something that many of our students have done to maintain social interaction whilst socially isolating. By having a regular call or activity that you do together can mean those in isolation have something to look forward to and build their day/week around; if possible try and have something scheduled more than once a week!”
If I’m worried about a friend how should I approach them?
Glasgow University’s Positive Mind suggested to look out for these signs:
– Lack of interest in things they used to enjoy: withdrawing from social situations, stopping hobbies or activities, disengaging or withdrawal in conversation
– Increased drug and/or alcohol use - drinking more than usual, hanging out with different groups of people you have never seen, starting to use drugs or using more frequently
– Changes in sleep routine: lying in bed all day or having several naps, staying up really late, struggling to sleep or lack of energy during the day
They suggest you can help by:
– Try to be accepting and open minded - asking if someone wants to talk about anything. Just listening, engaging and understanding how someone feels can go long a way
– Offer to help them to get support - look for services together online, search uni web pages together
– Encourage a more regular sleeping pattern
– Offer to go for regular walks / runs with them
– Often people don't want to be defined by their mental health so it can actually be just as helpful to continue to talk to them as normal and encourage them to take their mind off of things
Where can I go at university for support?
- Family & Friends
- Flat or Course Mates
- Accommodation Wellbeing Representatives
- Student Medical Centre or your GP
- Student Mental Health Society
- Course representatives
- Student Union Representatives and Welfare Officers
- Student Counselling & Wellbeing Services
- Personal Tutor, Lectures and Seminar Leaders
Always remember that there are lots of lovely people out there looking out for you, who are more than happy to chat, as no problem is too small!
Looking for help?
- Website: https://www.mind.org.uk
- Supportive Chat Room: https://www.elefriends.org.uk
- Infoline Call: 0300 123 3393
- Infoline Text: 86463
- Website: https://www.samaritans.org
- Phone: 116 123 (available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Anxiety UK
- Website: https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk
- Text Service: 07537 416 905
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)
- Website: https://www.thecalmzone.net (webchat available here)
- London Helpline: 0808 802 58 58
- Nationwide Helpline: 0800 58 58 58
- Website: http://www.sane.org.uk/
- Helpline: 0300 304 7000
- Text Care: http://www.sane.org.uk/what_we_do/support/textcare
Papyrus (Prevention of young suicide UK)
- HOPELineUK Call: 0800 068 41 41
- HOPELineUK Text: 07786 209697
- Email: email@example.com
Glasgow University Positive Minds
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/gupositiveminds
- Instagram: @gupositiveminds
- Instagram: @ic.reflections
The Depression Chronicles
- Instagram: @the_depression_chronicles11