Hello, darlings! I am back once again, and I have an exciting new series too this time around!
So, as part of this ever growing blog of mine, I thought I’d add a new series in the mix… Alongside some of my lovely University friends who like myself study at Worcester University and are on the committe for The Student Minds Worcester Society, this series will talk in depth about students’ mental health. Being a student in any capacity is challenging, and it is about time there were more open blogs on the web about how the mental health of students is a growing concern, and give tips and advice on how to manage it as a student!
This particular post is for all you Freshers out there- It is an exciting and nerve wracking time for any student, but how do you go about settling in when you have a mental health issue? Well, here is our advice!
On your first day, whether that is in welcome week or your first week of lectures, is to talk to your head of your subject or your personal academic tutor, establishing a relationship of trust and confidence. If you are having a bad mental health day or are struggling, you can go and see them!
I did this on my first day of welcome week, allowing me to go and see my PAT and head of my subject when I need some advice or just a chat. They are always supportive and helpful, I’ve found that they are more helpful than doctors sometimes as they can see when I’m struggling because they see me more.
Furthermore, make sure you take a day off a week from your studies and work in general as it allows you to relax your mind off your degree and anything else going on in life. I learnt this the hard way last year- I over worked myself, taking a large hit on my mental health. At one point, my PAT told me to take my day of lectures as a day off instead of working! It made such a difference to me because I could switch off and enjoy my day off instead of working solidly all the time- I’m studying a complex degree, so I found this very helpful.
If you feel happy about it, refer yourself to the mental health team at University. I did this on my second week of lectures on the advice of my lecturer. It helped me to seek support outside of my degree and see a trained professional. It helped me at the beginning of the year, but I found myself speaking to my lecturer more, but everyone is different. Just do what suits you and your situation. All that I have said in this blog is my personal experience, yours may be completely different and that’s okay. 🙂
The first piece of advice I can give you is that it’ll be hard but it’s worth it in the end. Studying is a brick wall that you are trying to tear down for three years. Studying whilst having mental health issues is like tearing down the brick wall with one hand, you may be handicapped and it might take you a little longer than most and its harder.
However, once that wall is down, you’ve worked so much harder than anyone else, you feel accomplished within yourself that you did this! It may have been harder and you may have more bruises than most but you’ve done it just like everyone else!
The second piece of advice I can give you is to remember to take a break. In my first year in university, my Head of Department told me to go home and take a week off five times throughout the year. This helped me, more than it hindered my progress. I tend to not realise when I’m working myself too hard and it was nice to have someone to tell you.
However, this may not be able to happen in every university or ever course, so it’s important to know your limits yourself and know when to have a day or even a week off if you need it, because YOU come first.
Throw yourself into anything and everything you want. My experience at university so far had been characterised with societies, sports and extracurricular activities. It’s hard to force yourself to go talk to them, or go to a training session where you don’t know anyone or even go to an event. However, if I didn’t force myself to do these things, my university experience wouldn’t be nearly as good as it now. I wouldn’t have such amazing friends in different areas of the university, I wouldn’t have my CV filled to the brim and I certainly wouldn’t have been as happy!
Rhi’s Advice (Me!)
I struggled immensely in settling into University at first..Homesickness alongside already having anxiety and depression diagnosis’ is not the greatest combination for a new student. My first piece of advice is to keep your family and friends up to speed about your mental health, as well as all the great stuff you are up to! Of course, it can be difficult to speak up, but when your mental health is concerned, you need to make sure that you have a strong support network around you. It will make things so much easier. Like Alia and Katie have said also, keep in contact with the University- They will support you!
Secondly, develop both time management and self care skills. Having these in place is a must as a student, especially as someone who struggles with their mental health- Balancing your academic and social life will enable you more easily to recognise when you are struggling and act accordingly before it esculates. Yes, you are at University to get a degree, but University life is made up of many different aspects and these skills will stay with you for life.
And finally, do not isolate yourself from enjoying yourself whilst you are a student and also be sure to fully research the support available from both your University and in the local community. Yes, some information about mental health support available to you can require a bit of research, but it is so worth while! One of the best decisions I have ever made was to fully research the mental health support available to me within the first few weeks of Uni and getting it sorted before life started to intensify. Granted, I had been living with mental health issues for a few years so had an idea where to go and what mental health issues I had, but regardless of where in your mental health journey you are, research and support is key!
We hope you have enjoyed this first post in this new series- I’m excited to see where this goes!
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