Guest Post by Ellen Hennessey from Loud Mag
Mental health amongst students is a growing cause for concern. While funds have increased for university mental health services, the number of those leaving University due to such issues in 2014-2015 increased by 210% from 2009-2010.
With more students coming forward to say that they are struggling with issues such as depression and anxiety, it is apparent that Universities need to do more to aid students. Additionally, students owe it to themselves to engage in a level of self-care in order to both quell their anxieties and to fulfil their wishes.
With regards to self-care, it is worth bearing in mind those emotions such as stress and anxiety can often arise alongside feelings of being out of control. By planning your week ahead and your work schedule, you take an excellent first step towards the maintenance of mental clarity and calmness. By accompanying this with regular exercise and healthy eating habits (as much as possible amidst the temptations of takeaways and microwave meals which arise to almost every new student!), you will hopefully see the correlation between a healthy body and a healthy mind.
While keeping organised is important, downtime is equally as vital. The worst feelings often come about when you feel isolated and alone. Whether you talk to a friend, a family member, a course tutor or someone from the university support services, try to voice your feelings and talk through your concerns and remember that there are always people to talk to. Try to maintain contact with your friends, both at home and at university. There will undoubtedly be times when the last thing in the world that appeals to you is socialising, yet try to push yourself as much as you can to see your friends. Sometimes a distraction from your thoughts is needed to break a negative cycle of thinking. No matter how big or small that social outing may be, it will help.
Taking time out of your day to write a diary may provide an outlet for you, although this does not work for everyone. A mindfulness app on an Android or iPhone called ‘Headspace’ is highly recommended by professionals for sufferers of mental health, providing meditation exercises to re-centre yourself and calm any potentially destructive thoughts.
Ultimately, it is important to know that support is always available. University support services are accessible, often providing counselling sessions. Talking to your doctor is also a viable option, where the most appropriate course of action can be discussed if you are really struggling, whether this be self-help strategies, therapy or medication. The charity ‘Samaritans’ is also available to those who want to talk privately. Alternatively, we here at Loud Mag have been focused on providing information about mental health in the run-up to the start of the academic year.
It is important to remember that University is a time of significant transition and change, meaning that no-one expects you to have everything figured out right away. Living independently and dealing with an ever-increasing workload and an intensified social situation are things that most people will struggle with in one way or another.
Being aware of the aforementioned techniques and making note of the support available will help in some way towards a healthy and enjoyable University experience as by doing so, students will hopefully be able to focus on the wealth of opportunities that lay ahead in their future.
Loud Mag is a free educational and lifestyle digital magazine and website, catering to those who are pondering their post-school life. Each edition offers a unique insight into University life and the working world, as well as interviews with celebs and articles written by students.