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October 9 2023Read more
Going to university should be one of the most exciting experiences many of us will ever have. Leaving home for the first time, the prospect of meeting new friends, a brand-new city– it’s easy to understand the allure.
However, for many young people, especially those with existing mental health conditions, the process of settling into university life can be an incredibly nerve-racking and stressful experience. According to the charity Humen, mental health negatively affects almost 50% of UK students.
You may feel daunted, homesick, or overwhelmed in between moving into a new home and starting your new course, and that is completely normal in the first few weeks.
The pandemic brought student’s mental health into clear focus. The lack of social opportunities and feelings of isolation and loneliness during lockdown hit young people hard, creating a perfect storm for anxiety and depression to fester.
Fast forward to 2023 and the list of challenges young people face is only getting longer. Ever-rising rents, inflation, and a cost-of-living crisis are adding to the social and financial stress placed on students, often resulting in high drop-out rates, or making the decision to not go to university at all.
By any measure, we are in the midst of a mental health crisis among young people. Research shows that 50% of students have considered leaving their course because of mental health challenges. Alarmingly, 7 in every 10 students have either been diagnosed with a long-term mental health condition, are experiencing a short-term mental health condition, or think they may have a condition that has not been diagnosed.
The risk of dropping out has never been higher and the government is urging universities to do more to provide students with greater access to mental health support services and student assistance programmes.
1. Lean on your friends and family
For many students, being at university is a time to prove their independence for the first time. But being away from home shouldn’t mean not keeping in contact with friends and family back home and being honest about how you feel.
2. Embrace the social aspect
Social opportunities come in all shapes and sizes. It could be helping out a flatmate with the cooking or going for a coffee walk around campus with your new coursemates. Being social doesn’t mean drinking ten pints and stumbling through the door at sunrise.
Working on something together and connecting in a way that doesn’t always involve alcohol can really help you create strong, lasting relationships and improve your mental health.
3. Stay active and explore your surroundings
Staying physically active is so important for your mental health. Keeping your mind engaged by playing sports, joining the gym, or simply getting out the house to explore your green surroundings will reduce feelings of anxiety and clear your mind.
4. Know your anxiety triggers
Anxiety management is only possible when there is a clear view of what triggers it. Anxiety or panic attacks can sneak up on you and catch you off-guard; by being mindful and honest with yourself about your triggers, the battle is almost won.
5. Self-care routines
Eating well and building a healthy lifestyle can contribute to easing stress and anxiety. Create a routine that suits you, make sure you sleep well and try and get into a habit of positive reinforcement.
6. Ask for help
It’s important to understand how you’re feeling and know when to ask for support. Help can come from lots of different people in our lives, but it’s worth knowing that most universities are well-equipped to support you through difficult times.
In our latest guide, we cover how improving access to support with an EAP can help students cope in times of difficulty.
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