Mental Health at university
October is over, and we’re about five weeks into term now. Campus is covered in leaves – great for kicking and stress relief – and we’re heading into November.
November – also known for Movember, a campaign aimed at raising money for men’s health issues – including mental health. As term progresses, and we get more assignments, the pressure is definitely mounting – I definitely feel it as a final year.
I therefore wanted to write a post about mental health and how you might keep an eye on it at university. Full disclaimer: I am NOT an expert, but just wanted to share a few of my own thoughts and advice based on my own experiences.
1) Talk about it.
Right, this isn’t always easy, I know. We often get the sense that if we keep going, it will get better. Sometimes it does – but more often than not, you can find yourself spiralling. I find that talking to people little and often – checking in, if you like – can be of great help. I’m not saying pour your heart out: it has to be what you feel comfortable with, and who you feel comfortable with. Friends, family, a personal tutor (you usually get assigned someone from your department, who is your port of call when you have any issues at uni), a lecturer – whoever you like, as long as you feel you can trust them.
2) Listen to yourself.
When you’re struggling, it can be hard to focus on anything. I remember going through a period where I literally did not know what I wanted or how I could make myself feel better – and it was terrifying. Having said that, I find that for the most part, my body is able to tell me what I want: go for a drive, get out the house, eat a really greasy Chinese, and so on. It’s difficult because you have to drown out all the other thoughts racing through your mind, but focusing on what you want/need can be a real help and comfort.
3) Find an outlet.
Personally, I keep a journal. But I’ve also found that a good workout helps too (thank you lockdown). Essentially, the trick is to find something that might distract you or help you relax. More importantly, something that helps you release all your emotions – go back to that image of pouring everything out. Try a couple of things – it’s not a question of one size fits all.
4) Stay true to yourself.
Again, I appreciate this is not easy – especially at a time when you might be questioning everything. But just remember that there are a lot of people who know and appreciate the person that you are – and you need to try your best to keep sight of that. Be kind to yourself, and try and celebrate yourself.
That’s just a few of the tricks that helped me when I was going through a tough time – they might work for you too, or they might not.