University can greatly impact your mental health if you don’t keep track of it. Here’s everything first year taught me about mental health.
Uni can feel really lonely
Even though there’s people everywhere. For the majority of students, the loneliness comes from being the only one of your friends heading off to a new place. For me, it was being the only one of my friends staying put. Whatever your situation, you’re going to find people you at least semi- like virtually straight away (everyone’s in the same boat) but even with all those people around you, it can still get lonely.
No matter how much time you spend with your friends, the minute you shut your door at night you’re left alone with your thoughts. This can be especially difficult for people already struggling with mental health issues, but it has the potential to cause some, too. My best advice would be to get to know as many people as possible – talk to people on your course, join a society, whatever it is just, please, make the effort. I know it can be daunting, but in the long run you’ll be glad you did.
Don’t turn your nose up at the help available
I’ll admit I rolled my eyes along with everyone else when I was first told about the text lines, counselling services and dog therapy sessions available at my Uni, but they’re actually a lot more helpful than you might think. ‘I can cope by myself, thank you very much’ pretty much sums up my response. Spoiler alert: I couldn’t. Uni has the potential to seriously impact your mental health if you don’t keep track of it, and the support is there for a reason.
Even if you don’t think there’s anything wrong, its always good to check in once in a while. And if you think for even a second that you might need help, ask for it. No one is going to tell you your problems aren’t important enough. It’s student services’ job to make sure you’re okay. Let them do it.
Nothing is more important than your mental health, even a degree
Degree level work is really hard, and it can be easy to feel like you can’t keep up, or that you have to push yourself past breaking point just to live up to the expectations of you lecturers, your parents and even yourself. Please, remember that your grades on not the be all and end all. You should take care of yourself first. Taking a night off from studying to rest your mind is not a crime, and a less-than-satisfactory grade does not make you a failure.
Ultimately, Uni (and first year in particular) can really test your mental health. But remember there’s help out there if you need it – and its okay to take it. You can also check out some useful mental health helplines here.
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