University can be a challenging time for anyone. You’re moving away from home, likely for the very first time, you’re meeting myriad new people from all walks of life, and you’re not surrounded by your trusty support base of friends and family. For those struggling with their mental health, this already stressful situation can be difficult to bear.
But fear not, help is at hand! With the stigma surrounding mental health finally fading into the abyss of ignorance (where it rightly belongs!), people are more open about their struggles and support systems exist where once there was none.
In honour of mental health day, that fell on Tuesday, we at Study International are here to give you a few handy tips to keep your mental health in tip-top condition as you navigate student life.
1. Skip a night out every once in a while
We completely understand that ever nagging feeling of FOMO that can come with saying “No”, but in the hectic life of university it’s essential you know your limits and take some time out.
Perhaps you’re not a “going out” sort of person at all and the thought of bar crawls with strangers fills you with dread. You are most certainly not alone!
While going out is touted as a key way to meet people in your first few months, there are plenty of other non-anxiety-inducing ways to bond with like-minded people. Join the societies that interest you or strike up a conversation with the person next to you in lectures. At least in this situation, you know you already have something in common.
2. Sign up with your local doctor
This should be a standard procedure regardless of your health concerns. Make it a priority in freshers’ week to get down to your local docs pronto – you never know when you might need them.
They’ll also be able to advise you on any services or support groups in the area that may be able to help you in your time of need.
3. Speak to your tutor
You will likely be pleasantly surprised if you bring yourself to open up to your tutor. They know better than anyone the challenges of university life and will likely be the most understanding and sympathetic to your concerns. Tutors these days are often far more aware of mental health and will have been trained in how to address issues you may be facing.
Also, don’t forget, your tutor can often be your biggest champion at university. Remember, they’ve got your back and can sometimes be your staunchest defender if you run into any academic woes as a result of your mental health.
4. Look out for grants
Most people don’t realise that mental health is often covered under either government grant schemes or scholarships for students with disabilities. This will obviously differ from country to country, but many major study destinations will offer grant money to those who experience greater difficulty with student life.
Not only can this ease money worries – a major source of stress at university – but it can also allow you to access the help you need, when you need it.
Remember to get in early though as applications can take a long time to be processed and approved.
5. Talk to people, they will listen!
Mental health issues are often viewed as a “silent killer” because some people still struggle to talk about them openly. Please don’t let this be you. Opening up to your peers can be a huge help in relieving some of the burden you feel. You may also be surprised by the goodness of people and how much they want to help in any way they can.
6. Put your health first
What all of this essentially boils down to is, look after number one. University is important, but it’s not the be all and end all. Deadlines can be extended, exams can be re-sat. You can even take a year out and return if you need to. If things get too much, stop! Your health trumps any degree.