Leaving your family home and going to uni to study for an expensive degree can be a stressful experience for some students and this can take a toll on their mental health. According to Save the Student one in four students experience mental health problems while at university. I was the one in four in this statistic as I really struggled my mental health.
Things I found particularly difficult at uni
Before I went to university I was used to education being a school environment where you get constant support from your teachers. But I found that university was VERY different. I’ve always struggled to ask for help if I don’t understand something, so when I had essays that I found particularly difficult the stress I felt was overwhelming.
I remember having numerous phone calls home crying because I didn’t think I could do it. I’ve been afraid of failure my whole life and every time I struggle with something my mind wanders to imminent doom, which for me was failing my course and letting my family down. But I still didn’t ask for help, I battled through getting more stressed by the day. Save the Student sites that ‘71% of students said workload had the biggest impact on their mental health.’ For me this was the biggest trigger to my mental health.
2. Lack of money
This is common cause of stress for university students because until you move away from home, you don’t realise how much it really costs to live. I remember having numerous meetings with my bank to try and get my overdraft extended, but I kept getting rejected. This was a very difficult period because I was constantly worried about money.
3. Drinking too much
At university there is a huge drinking culture you can’t seem to escape it, so there is a lot of social pressure from the offset. I didn’t find this hard to deal with because I enjoy a night out, but I did notice in my second year I was getting too drunk on nights out, to the point where I’d black out and not remember what I’d done the night before, at least two or three nights a week. I found that this really affected my mental health because I felt like I was all over the place.
The night I decided I had to stop getting into these states was when I fell down the stairs of a club and hit my head. I had no memory of this the next day but I felt the pain. It scared me that this situation could of been a lot worse.
What did I do to help my mental health?
After beginning my third year and getting really ridiculously stressed with an essay I had to write, I decided enough was enough. I came to the decision that I would take a year out and continue next year. I moved back in with my mum, spoke to my doctor and went to therapy.
Taking a year out is not something everyone would want to do, but for me this was the best decision because I prioritised my mental health over everything else. This paid off for me in the end because I graduated with a first class honours in Broadcast Media Production.
What advice would I give to other students?
- Notice if your workload is getting on top of you and speak to your tutor to see if they can help you.
- Find out if your university offers any mental health support and access this help.
- Talk to your friends, the chances are they are feeling similar to you. Sometimes just talking about it can help.
- Regulate your drinking, if you feel like your life is getting unbalanced, try and drink less.
- Exercise can help relieve stress, so you might want to join a sporting society or your university gym.