Introduction to student wellbeing
Going to university may be your first time away from home and familiar support systems. While some students adjust to the challenges of managing money, eating properly and socialising, others can struggle. Keeping healthy is vital and mental health is just one facet of general health and student wellbeing.
Although Covid-19 brings its own unique pressures with social distancing and online lecturers, Collegiate accommodation is designed to promote sociability, with spacious communal living rooms and gyms meaning that you won’t be isolated in a bedroom.
Make sure your first year is fun by being aware of your mental health and noticing when something may be wrong.
Mental health facts
Mental health and mental illness are not the same thing: mental health means our general well-being while mental illness relates to clinically diagnosable conditions such as depression.
Research suggests that one in four students experience mental health issues while at university.
One third of students report psychological problems such as irregular sleep and stress – poor diet, work issues, lack of exercise and too much alcohol are all contributors.
Anxiety and depression are the most common mental illnesses in students, followed by eating disorders, panic attacks, bipolar disorder, fluctuating moods, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and at the extreme end, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
World Mental Health Day on October 10th 2020 emphasises the proven treatments for anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder and highlights the fact that early intervention and ongoing support do work.
Student wellbeing – warning signs of problems
Lack of energy
Inability to concentrate
Changes to sleeping/eating patterns
Withdrawal from social activities
Addictive behaviour – reliance on drugs/alcohol
Key survival tips
Maintain a daily routine.
Exercise – just 20 minutes’ releases mood-boosting endorphins into the brain.
Eat well – plenty of fruit and veg, restrict caffeine and alcohol which is a depressant.
Sleep – go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
Keep a diary – writing can clear the mind.
Set small goals – make a home-cooked meal.
Tidy your room – helps focus.
Walk – fresh air is beneficial.
Assess your situation – change your accommodation or course if necessary.
Restrict social media time.
Help is out there
If you are feeling low or anxious, there is always someone to talk to. You may well not be diagnosed as having a mental illness; talking can often resolve a problem.
Collegiate staff are trained to deal with students’ mental health issues and give support: student wellbeing is a priority.
Universities have student guidance counsellors, your personal tutor or GP can also help or consult the UK’s student mental health charity, Student Minds.