By Shona Johnson
Making the move to university isn’t an easy undertaking, even for the most prepared of students. Pair that stress with mental illness and it might seem like you’ve got quite the fight on
An NUS survey conducted in 2014 found that 78% of the 1,093 students surveyed admitted to experiencing mental health issues in the last year.
That is an astoundingly large number of students, which only goes to show just how important mental wellbeing and mindfulness is in an environment as stressful as that of university life.
All this being said, there are many simple things we can do to stay on top of our mental health as students.
‘The state of your bed is the state of your head’
This may seem like a slightly juvenile suggestion, but hear me out. For most students moving away from home to university is the first time they have ever lived by themselves. There are no parents around to pick up after you, if your bedclothes are dirty they will not magically get washed unless you do it yourself. The same goes for keeping your space tidy and clean. You alone are the one that has the responsibility of looking after yourself. If your surroundings are a mess, your clothes and linens are dirty and you can’t find anything in the morning, you’re not going to feel like you are in control which for many people has a detrimental effect on their mental health. You owe it to yourself to keep on top of things. Let’s be real here – it’s great getting out of bed in the morning without tripping over crap on the floor.
Get to know the services available to you
It is crucial that you know what help is there for you when you are experiencing any kind of mental health problem. Here at Swansea University, we have the lovely people at the Advice & Support Centre (situated behind Costcutter in Fulton House) as well as Wellbeing Services (although they are not currently taking on any new students due to a full waiting list). We also have a Mental Health Awareness Officer (yours truly), as well as a Welfare Officer – these roles are in place for your well being, so do not be afraid to fire off an email if you are struggling. It is also very important that you register with the GP on campus (situated in the Penmaen building on Singleton Campus), make sure you speak to them if at any point you are finding it difficult to cope. Even though we offer lots of support as a Students’ Union the advice of your doctor is invaluable. Your personal tutor should also be one of your first ports of call when it comes to mental health issues, it is their job to ensure your well being – both academically and mentally.
Go easy with alcohol
I shouldn’t be lecturing anyone on this topic, but learn from my mistakes! It goes without saying that going out and getting drunk comes hand-in-hand with most people’s uni experience, but it’s really important that you’re safe. Alcohol is a depressant, that is a fact. So if like me you suffer from ungodly hangovers, you’re not only going to feel like shit physically, but mentally as well. If you take this into account when drinking, that’s fine – but you really have to ask yourself if a couple of nights out on the town are worth getting ‘black dog’ over.
Don’t isolate yourself
This point kind of carries on from my last one, but it’s very important too. Not everyone likes drinking and clubbing, thusly a lot of people fall off of the social radar. Crowded bars can be overwhelming for some people, and it’s important to know that they are not the only place to unwind when you are at university. We have over 120 societies that offer fantastic socials that aren’t all alcohol-based, you will find one that is right for you – I promise. If you didn’t make it to Freshers’ Fayre, take a look on the union’s website – every single society and sports club is listed there for you to join.
Make the most of it
The most important thing you can do for your mental health while at university is to enjoy yourself. Take the opportunities that are given to you, go on one of our trips with the Travel Shop (Fulton House, Singleton Campus), run for a committee position, take a day out to explore the Gower. You’re here to get a degree primarily, but don’t worry too much. These are your formative years and you’ve got a unique opportunity here to be exactly the person that you want to be, grab the bull by its horns and have some fun – you’re going to be
Mental Health Awareness Officer
Advice & Support Centre
Mental Health Foundation