Thursday 3rd March marks University Mental Health Day 2022. The Editorial Team have come together to share their thoughts and experiences on speaking out and seeking support as a student.
My university provides five free counselling sessions at the Student Services Centre for students who need help, and I have recently sought support from them. It was not an easy decision to make. I worried that I might be overreacting, so I hesitated while trying to seek support. The experience turned out to be really good and extremely helpful and I regretted not seeking support earlier.
Seeking support is okay and people working at universities are experienced, they will never judge you for asking for help and regard things that troubles you as insignificant.
The switch from living at home to university was exceptionally daunting, therefore the hardest part was reaching out. My university was quick in giving me an initial appointment where they facilitated open conversations where I felt safe to vocalise my initial anxieties. The appointments they provided were as frequent/infrequent as I wanted them to be. This really helped me not bottle things up which I began to.
They directed me towards an amazing NHS service which really helped me understand myself and my feelings. This experience really empowered me and enabled me to become a great talker and listener, and I feel I now have the tools to help others in similar situations.
Remember never to be afraid to ask for help!
I personally didn’t have to seek support while at university. As a student, I spent two years working with my university’s mental health charity. As a mental health ambassador, I attended regular sessions and further training with Young Minds.
I felt very grateful being in a position where people felt confident speaking with me expressing their struggles and worries. From these conversations, I would introduce these individuals to the support services on campus. It’s rewarding helping people.
My university provided six free therapy sessions and raised awareness of mental health days throughout the year.
If you are struggling, please see support. You aren’t alone!
I remember I needed help when I first came to London for my studies a few months ago, something really practical… for example, how to rent a flat, register a GP, even things like how to print at the school library. Sometimes I felt so ashamed to ask those kinds of questions because I thought those were so just stupid and small issues.
Making good use of the university’s service centre and joining the international students’ community are the ways for seeking support.
It is okay to ask ‘stupid’ questions. I should forgive myself as a foreigner in a new place.
Sometimes it can feel intimidating to reach out for support from student services. Although not a replacement for seeking professional help, peer support networks are a great way to talk to someone that understands the issues that students face.
From my experience, peer support volunteers are all kind, empathetic, lovely people who are happy to listen to you and refer you to any relevant resources.
No problem is too small, and this may just be the bridge you need to gain the confidence and encouragement to seek further help. Good luck!
As an international student, I was far away from my comfort zone and initially culturally shocked – the systems, norms and even slang were all so different. I also experienced ‘imposter syndrome’ during my first term at Cambridge, constantly feeling like I did not deserve to be here. These situational challenges, when compounded, led to me being diagnosed with depression in the first few months of university. I struggled to create and maintain a healthy (and completely new) lifestyle of independence and productivity. My friends would encourage me when I didn’t have the energy to get out of bed or make myself a meal on most days. I was extremely fortunate to have found support professionally and in my friends. Despite initial hesitance, my friends and family encouraged me to reach out to the university’s mental health services. This helped reassure me of the potential to recover, and guided me towards the light at the end of the tunnel. Many people are struggling like you, so don’t be afraid to reach out and get the help you need!
My university offered many supports for students experiencing mental health problems. There was a free counselling service that offered students sessions with trained therapists. I used this service and found it very helpful.
If things were particularly tough and unmanageable around exam time there were policies in place allowing students to apply for extenuating circumstances which could postpone the examinations or allow a student to re-sit exams without penalty if they did not get a passing grade. There were disability support services for students that helped them to arrange accommodations to enable them to complete their education while managing mental health issues.
The stresses of university, exams and all the deadlines put pressure on everyone’s mental health so rest assured that you’re not alone there. You’re equally not alone in wanting to seek support if that’s what you feel is best for you.
Speak out and get the support you need! It’s much better to talk about the situation you find yourself in rather than suffer in silence.
And if you’re not struggling with your mental health, then be there for your friends and loved ones. Let them lean on you for support and make sure they know that you’re there for them.