The Student Guide to Staying on Top of Your Mental Health

Posted in Student Life by nido team on November 26, 2019

If you’ve been feeling down, struggling with certain things or just not seeming yourself, then it’s important to know that you’re not alone – reports have shown that one in four students experience mental health problems during their time at university. Whether it’s meeting deadlines, maintaining a social calendar or feeling like there’s a pressure to succeed, students have to deal with a lot during their studies.

If you’re stressed out, you might feel like it’s difficult to know where to turn. Luckily, there are so many different forms of support to help out if you’ve been in a bad way lately. Here, we’ve gathered the most beneficial resources and tools you can use to stay on top of your mental health.

What are the signs of mental illness?

While mental illness differs from person to person, and the symptoms vary massively, there are still some things you can look out for, whether it’s in you or someone you know.

This is not an extensive checklist of symptoms, and you don’t have to be experiencing the following to be suffering from a mental health issue. If you’re feeling low, then seek help immediately, regardless of the symptoms.

  • Feelings of sadness
  • A lack of interest in previous hobbies, or a lack of interest
  • Inability to concentrate or focus on work
  • Excessive worrying
  • Major changes in your sleeping or eating habits
  • Extreme highs and lows of emotion
  • Withdrawal from social activity
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts or self-harm
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, back pain or stomach cramps

Talking with therapist

How can your university help with your mental illness?

Mitigating circumstances

If the state of your mental health has begun to have an impact on your ability to complete work on time, or it’s affecting your grades, then it’s worth applying for mitigating or extenuating circumstances for any exams or coursework you think might be affected.

Each university has a policy on what falls under ‘mitigating circumstances’, and they’ll usually assess applications on a case-by-case basis. While this means that it’s difficult to know for certain whether your case will be accepted, reports have shown that more students are applying for these circumstances as a result of their mental health. In 2016 alone, 218 Cambridge University students were given these special arrangements, including extended deadlines and sitting exams outside of exam halls.

A note from your GP or counsellor explaining your mental health problems and how they affect your life on a daily basis should strengthen your case. However, even without this professional advice, your claim is still valid. Speak to someone from your subject department or the student advice centre in your union for guidance on how to apply and any evidence that you might need. 

Your university’s mental health and counselling service

Each university has a student mental health and counselling service. If you aren’t feeling yourself then make sure you get in touch, as the help they provide can be invaluable. Your personal tutor will also be able to point you in the right direction of the appropriate services, so it’s worth sitting down to talk to them first.

That said, because of the increasing number of students seeking support, along with a lack of funding, you might be put on a waiting list. Don’t fret, however, as there are still other means to get help in the meantime.

Sessions tend to take the form of a one-to-one, hour-long appointment with a trained therapist or counsellor in a confidential, non-judgmental space for you to explore how you’ve been feeling.

Positive impact of therapy

Your student union

Your union will most probably be able to offer advice and support on these issues too. Head to its student advice centre if you aren’t sure where to turn; they’ll be able to give you more info on university services and other resources you can use.

How can your GP help?

Just like a physical illness, problems with your mental health shouldn’t be ignored. Make an appointment with your GP to discuss the steps you may need to take to get back on track. During your appointment, you’ll be asked about your symptoms, be guided to any relevant services and may even be prescribed medication. For more information on the medication that might be prescribed to you, check out Mind’s guide here.

They may also refer you to Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme, where you’ll receive tailored therapy from trained practitioners and work towards set goals.

Other helpful services and resources

It’s important to remember that you aren’t alone. There are plenty of round-the-clock helplines and online support portals you can rely on at any time of the day; knowing there’s someone there to hear you out can be a huge comfort. Here are some of the services we’d recommend:

Mental health helplines

  • Samaritans – Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 116 123. If you don’t feel comfortable talking on the phone, you can write down your feelings and email them to jo@samaritans.org – they should get back to you in 24 hours.
  • Nightline – Every university has a nightline, a confidential and anonymous service where they’ll listen and offer advice. Running from around 8 pm to 8 am through term time, head to the Nightlight website to look for your uni’s phone number.
  • PAPYRUS – From 10 am-5 pm and 7 pm-10 pm on weekdays and 2 pm-5 pm on weekends, this suicide prevention charity run a hotline.
  • Mind – The UK’s leading mental health charity operate an infoline from 9 am-6 pm every weekday, providing those in need with further information about mental health support in their local area.
  • CALM – Specifically geared towards reducing suicide rates in young males, the Campaign Against Living Miserably still offers general mental health advice too. Both their helpline and webchat are open 5 pm-midnight every day of the year.

Feeling good about his studies

Online support services

  • OCD UK, Anxiety UK, Bipolar UK and No Panic offer specific advice and support for those suffering from OCD, generalised anxiety and bipolar disorder.
  • Relate is the leading counselling service for relationship support, helping you with any problems you may be having with your partner, family or friends.
  • If a recent bereavement is affecting your mental health, then Cruse Bereavement Care offers support and counselling.
  • One of our many partners, Time To Change features plenty of online materials and resources that help yourself and others to change the way we think and act about mental health.

If you’re looking for a student living experience that offers more, head over to the NIDO STUDENT SITE to see what properties are nearby or drop us a line on 0207 1000 100 for more information on our student residences.