The Mental Health Issue

University life is wonderful in so many ways, but like any period, it can also be incredibly tough from the perspective of mental health.

No more has this ever been the case than at present, with lockdown leaving students unable to freely socialise or attend classes in person. This loneliness is likely to impact the mental health of a many number of students, whilst a significant proportion of the student community struggle with their mental health independent of the pandemic.

On University Mental Health Day (Thursday 4 March), it’s important to reflect on the impact mental health can have on our wellbeing at university. We want to do whatever we can to help our student community, so we put together a list of tips to help you stay on top of your mental health as best as you can.

1. Get lots of exercise 

We aren’t asking you to be the next Paula Radcliffe or Mo Farah, but working out is massively important for our mental health. It doesn’t matter if you go for a 10k run or walk around the block as long as you are staying active. Exercise you can do in the fresh air is especially beneficial. You might not want to get out of bed before lectures to go for a run, but if you do it, you’ll thank us afterwards.

2. Be kind to yourself

This is a difficult time for all and so self-care has never been more important. Yes, it’s a good thing to push yourself and strive for the goals you have set, but if you are feeling low, try and see the bigger picture. Don’t beat yourself up about work you could’ve done better, or feel like you should be being more productive. Just keeping your life in order amongst the chaos is worth a pat on the back. Remember the things that make you feel better too, and treat yourself to them more often than usual.

3. Reduce screen time 

With few opportunities to socialise or leave home, it’s easy to spend hours and hours of your day scrolling aimlessly on your phone. Don’t do this: it’ll leave you feeling frazzled, unproductive and deflated. Leave your phone on charge outside your room when you sleep, as to avoid the temptation to spend all night on it and check it first thing in the morning. Whatever you do with your phone, don’t let Instagram convince you that everyone else is having a great time. The likelihood is that everyone else is as bored as you are!

4. Stay socially active 

Just because you can’t currently see your friends in person doesn’t mean that you should cut them off entirely. Make sure to stay in touch with your mates, with a quick message or even better a phone call. Organising a group zoom might sound a bit 2020, but once it gets going you’ll be wondering why it took you so long.

If you have the luxury of a student house or extended social bubble, don’t let Covid stop you from making a fuss out of an evening. There’s loads you can do, so check out our blog on ideas to help you plan a top class lockdown night in.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help 

Reach out to friends and family: it might sound cliche, but a problem shared really is a problem halved. Also make sure to make full use of the support structures around you at university. You have a personal tutor for a reason, and if you don’t feel comfortable speaking to them, reach out to your favourite lecturer or a member of the university pastoral team. 

Failing that, there are a number of websites offering invaluable free resources or numbers you can call to seek help. Here are just a few:

  • Samaritans: Free 24-hour helpline where you can talk about anything that is upsetting you. Phone: 116 123. Website: www.samaritans.org.uk
  • Mind: Information and support for those struggling with their mental health. Phone: 0300 123 3393. Website: www.mind.org.uk
  • Nightline: Many universities and colleges offer a night-time listening service on the Nightline website. Nightline phone operators are all students too.
  • Papyrus: If you or someone you know are struggling with suicidal feelings, call Papyrus. Phone: 0800 068 4141 Website: www.papyrus-uk.org.
  • A more comprehensive list of helplines can be found here.

Don’t believe us?

Just to make sure we were on the right lines, we asked our Campus Coordinators, who represent Stint across the country, for their best piece of advice regarding mental health.

Swipe through the list to see their top tips for staying positive through this difficult period.