Student Life and Mental Health: Why Your Mental Health Matters
From one student to another....
I can't claim to be an expert on mental health, and it would be wrong of me to do so, but I do know what it is like to be a student and all of the emotions, doubts, feelings, and worries that come with it. Student life is hard and sometimes people (especially those who aren't in your environment) don't realise that you might be struggling. Here is some advice I have gathered from my own experiences of dealing with student life and the ways I have learned to keep my mental health in check.
That being said, this isn't a professional opinion, this blog is all based off my personal experience, so if you do worry about your mental health then please see someone qualified to handle your situation!
But I have not been diagnosed, Are my problems valid?!
The first thing to make really clear about mental health is that the term encompasses a wide range of states and emotions. A mistake people often make is thinking that mental health only refers to extreme diagnoses such as schizophrenia, but this is not the case. Mental health could just be making sure you are stress free and happy.
One of the main reasons I often wouldn't talk about how I was feeling was due to the fact that I didn't feel my point was worth mentioning. This is something that I sometimes still feel. I thought that because I didn't have a diagnosed condition, it wasn't worth me expressing my problems.
I have found this problem is particularly present among students and other people my age as they don't want to 'cause trouble' by mentioning something which they don't deem worth talking about.
You are not causing trouble! Everybody has feelings, thoughts and problems, and all of them are valid. Don't let anybody make you feel like your problems aren't worthy of attention. Everybody has a right to be listened to!
Yes, it counts!
Remember, your mental health is just as important as everybody else's. Your concerns are valid and you have a right to be treated equally when it comes to talking about your mental health.
You're not the only one!
Student life is stressful. That's just the way it is. For most people, this is the first time living away from home, and losing the safety net of your parents can be scary. I found it terrifying at first. In addition to this, you have a bunch of other new scenarios taking place around you as well. You have to make new friends, the workload is a lot bigger, you have to take care of yourself, you have to pay rent etc. All of these things are stressful as individual events. As a new student, you have to learn to do all of them at once. The fact you manage all of that is incredible!
The main thing to remember here is that it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed. It is very easy to feel isolated in your new environment but just remember that everybody else is probably feeling the same way. You aren't alone. Find someone to talk to because I can guarantee that there will be someone within 100 ft of you who is just as scared. Perhaps by comforting them, you can bring yourself some comfort.
It is also worth mentioning that your university will expect you to be overwhelmed.There will be places available for you to go to if you are feeling anxious, or nervous, or just a bit unlike yourself. Don't be ashamed of needing to make use of these facilities. They are there to help you!
If you are finding the move to uni stressful, here is my previous blog on surviving first year:
- How to Survive the First Year of Uni (Some Tips From an Almost 2nd Year)
A collection of tips I have acquired over my first year of university. These range from Money to Halls to Classes and everything in between that will hopefully prepare you for the start of the next 3 or more years of your life.
What I do on bad days.
Over the past year of my degree, I have has lots of days where I have felt worthless. There has been no cause of this, it hasn't been triggered by anything. It is just an emotion that the hormones in my body decide to throw at me every now and again. The same can be said for anxiety. I get butterflies in my tummy. Not the excited kind, the "my stomach is burning and I don't know what to do" kind. Again, there is no reason for this, it is just something that I have learned to deal with.
Whether you suffer from anxiety, stress, depression, or any other mental health problem (diagnosed or not) or just feel extremely down every now and again, you are not alone! Here I have compiled my own personal list of do’s and don’t for days like this:
- Don't sit in your room by yourself. It is very tempting, especially when you are feeling anxious or stressed to sit by yourself and close yourself off from the world. Please, don't sit alone and tell yourself you're not good enough. You are exactly who you are meant to be. You are important.
- Make use of your university services. Your university will most likely have services available for you to discuss any issues you are having with your mental health. These can vary from your personal tutor to counselling services. Even if you don't feel able to talk with these people, make sure you inquire about all the services you are entitled to before you make any decisions.
- Talk to someone. This is something I find particularly helpful when I am having a bad day. It doesn't have to be someone professional, it can be a friend, a family member, even your dog if you like. You don't have you talk about how you are feeling, just talk about something. Distract your brain for a little while.
- Make a list. Again, this may not be for everyone but something I find useful when I don't feel good enough is to make a list of the good things that happened that day. It can be anything from "I made a really good cup of tea" to "I got an A on my essay". As long as it is something positive it can go on the list.
You are enough.
I spend a lot of my time thinking about how I am probably never going to make that big dent in the world that I always dreamed I would. It took me a long time to realise that I don't need to make a dent, you don't need to change the world to be important. As long as you matter to somebody you are making a difference.
Mental health is an important issue that is often not spoken about enough. I would once again like to reiterate that I am not a professional. If you do have concerns about your mental health please find someone to talk to! If you have experienced mental health issues yourself, look out for someone who might be going through the same thing. Remind your roommate that they are enough. Tell your friends that they matter. Spread the word that mental health is not an issue to be ignored. Spark a fire that can be passed from person to person. Remember, mental health is not just a diagnosis!
© 2018 Tilly Scott