Some considerations for Mental Health Awareness Week
Monday 13 May marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week. In this blog I will be discussing some common worries of students that if not dealt with can have an extremely negative impact on our wellbeing. Wellbeing is a vital aspect of anyone’s day-to-day life, especially when it comes to being a student.
1. I feel alone at university
The irony is, while there will probably never be another time in which you’re surrounded by so many people, university can be one of the loneliest times for many students. Some days when the workload is at an all-time high, you may only find yourself leaving your room for lectures. Everyone does this from time to time, however, getting into a habit of doing this can affect your overall mood in more ways than you think. The important thing to do if you feel yourself becoming lonely, is to take the time to talk to flatmates, course mates or any other friends you have around you. Also, just getting out of the flat can really boost your mood. Sometimes, though, loneliness can seem inescapable, even if you’re not sure why. It’s true that we don’t have our friends and family from home, the people we tell everything to. It’s important to know that just because you’re away from home, it does not mean you can’t give them a call and voice your worries.
2. I feel like I’m not doing well academically
Many experience this concern, particularly within the first year of university. It is very likely that you will not get firsts straight away, even if you got A’s at A-level. Not only is the content much more difficult at degree level, but the marking system is in many ways completely different from previous education. Criticality becomes all the more important, as well as structure- not to mention the huge task of tackling referencing! You may find it reassuring to talk it over with classmates (although this doesn’t always work out, it can sometimes make you feel worse). What you’ll find is that your grades will gradually improve with hard work, and the key point is to not doubt your ability and to not feel disheartened. I always find it helpful to put my grade into perspective by asking myself questions such as ‘What can I take from this?’. It can also be useful to think about how you would respond to someone else who got your grade- would you be doubting their intelligence? No, you’d most likely be telling them to not stress, and that one grade does not define them as a person. Start treating yourself as you would others!
3. I don’t feel like I’ve made many close friends
There is no ‘correct’ number of friends to have. Just having a few people who will be there for you is more than enough. Remember- most people at university are completely open to making new friends, so if there’s someone in your class or from a society that you are yet to approach, don’t hesitate! We are all adults, so be sure to surround yourself with people who respect your decisions. If you feel anyone is pressuring you into anything, question how much you really want them as a friend. If you still feel that you want to meet more people, then societies are ideal for this. You’ll find people with similar interests, which is a bonus! It is never too late to make friends.
4. I don’t know what I want to do in the future
It may cause you to feel down when other students at university appear to have everything sorted out, including work placements, jobs, future aspirations (etc). While it is helpful to know what you’re interested in as your degree progresses, the future is yours to shape, and your future plans are likely to change a lot! There are plenty of people to talk to, including the careers department (https://warwick.ac.uk/services/careers/). Remember, university is not just about planning your future, it is also about learning, and enjoying your learning!
I’ll quickly discuss some areas you can turn to for help:
· Your personal tutor: Your PT has been with you since the start of your university experience, so it’s likely that they know you very well. It is helpful to turn to them if you have an academic as well as personal queries. They can then advise you, as well as get involved if you would like them to.
· Any of your teachers: Don’t feel your personal tutor is the only person you can turn to, though. If you get on well with any particular teachers and feel they could offer advice, they’re only an email away! If you have concerns over grades/exams, they may be able to reassure you.
· Students in the years above: I have often messaged students from year 2 when I have had worries about modules, or general course structure. These guys have been through it, so often have the answers straight away!
· Wellbeing services and support: If everything is too much, and you don’t feel yourself anymore, the wellbeing services at Warwick should be your next place to turn. They’re only a click away: https://warwick.ac.uk/services/supportservices/
Nobody is truly alone at university, there are always people there to offer a helping hand. University is a hugely different experience, so remember to take it easy once in a while, and realise that you have actually achieved a lot!
For the image, credit goes to https://manchestermind.org/mental-health-awareness-week-2019/
This website also offers many helpful online resources.