Mental health at university
Heading off to university is one of the most life-changing things many of us will ever do. You’re meeting a whole new set of people, taking on studies that are more advanced than anything you’ve done before and maybe even leaving home for the first time! As well as all the excitement that this naturally brings, you’re probably also a bit apprehensive, wondering how you’ll get on in your new world.
To support you along the way, we’ve put together a few top tips to help you nurture your mental health as you jump into this new challenge.
1. Get unpacked
Whether you’re moving into halls or stepping into a flatshare, when you first walk into your new room, it’s likely to look pretty bare. If you’re already feeling a bit emotional, this can be quite overwhelming. As tempting as it might be to leave unpacking some of your boxes for later, don’t put it off. This is going to be your home for the next nine months or so – you’ll sleep here, relax here, work and probably eat here, so it’s worth making it a space you want to spend time in. Get those boxes open and fill your room with all your things; it’ll quickly feel much more like home.
2. Remember everyone’s in the same boat
One of the scariest things about going to uni is meeting new people and making friends. It might feel like you’re on your own but it’s worth remembering that most people won’t know anybody either and are just as worried as you about fitting in. You’ll probably find that people are pretty understanding of how scary the whole experience is – after all, they’re feeling it too!
3. Register with a local GP
This one might seem a bit of a chore but it’s definitely worth it. Being registered with a local GP isn’t just a godsend if you come down with freshers’ flu, it’s also important for accessing mental health support if you need it. Most services will only see patients registered with a local GP, so get yourself down to your nearest practice as soon as possible. You’ll feel better knowing you can go there if you need to.
4. Keep in touch
You might have moved away from home, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave your old life behind completely. If you feel like you need to call home, do it. Hearing a friendly voice (or seeing a familiar face if you’re FaceTiming) can be really reassuring. Plus, you’d be amazed how often everyone else is on the phone with Mum and Dad.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for support
You’re going to be juggling a lot over the next few months – classes, coursework, cooking and cleaning (OK maybe not!), socialising, budgeting and much more. It’s ok to find this tough. If you’re really struggling to meet a deadline, talk to your tutors about an extension and, whatever the issue, don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for support and advice. If you’re finding that stress is getting too much, visit your GP or university counselling service. They see lots of students like you every day and will be able to help you get the support and advice you need.
6. Be kind to yourself
Believe it or not, you’re not a superhero. Make sure you take time to relax and do the things that make you happy. If you’re feeling a bit stressed, it can be easy to start questioning yourself, so take a moment to remember why you’re here. You wouldn’t have been accepted on the course if the university didn’t think you were capable!
7. Have fun
We’re not suggesting you go out drinking every night but don’t be afraid to let your hair down once in a while. Sign up for some societies that interest you and enjoy some of the freedoms of being a student - yes you can eat pizza in your pants at 10am (just maybe not every day).