What is mental health? It is our emotional, psychological, and social well-being that are all parts of our mental health. It influences our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. Additionally, it influences how we respond to stress, interact with others, and make good decisions. Every period of life, from childhood and adolescence to maturity, is vital for mental health. Mental Health varies significantly in many ways and impacts everyone differently. Some examples of mental health issues include; anxiety disorders which can be GAD (generalised anxiety disorder), panic disorders, phobias, persistent worrying, and fear. Mood disorders, eating disorders e.g. anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, etc, personality disorders, and psychotic disorders.
Statistics show that In England, 1 in 4 people may struggle with a mental health issue at some point in the year. In England, 1 in 6 adults claims to have experienced a common mental health issue (such as anxiety or depression) in any given week. Narrowing it down there are figures that show that 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year. 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24 and according to ONS, 37 percent of first-year students surveyed in England at a university have symptoms of depression and anxiety. That number is statistically higher than the general population of those aged 16-29 which is 22 percent. This indicates that it is more than likely that many university students have and will suffer from mental health issues.
How does mental health impact students?
When starting university, is the beginning of a whole new chapter of life, moving out and living alone in a whole new environment although at this age there may be a lot of uncertainty, we are still young and still learning about ourselves. During your time at university, you will experience some lows times as well as some highs as students we are vulnerable to mental health issues but it’s important to know how to deal with lows. It is so important to take care of your mental health at university, things that may impact your mental health include
Academic pressures: High levels of academic pressure, excessive workloads, high expectations, and pressure to perform well in exams can cause stress and anxiety. Personal relationships: Going to a whole new city you might struggle to form relationships and friendships can often lead to loneliness and anxiety or there may be trouble in your personal life, such as romantic relationships, friendships, and family conflicts can lead to emotional distress and impact mental health. Financial stress: Having self-responsibility with your finances and dealing with living expenses etc, especially during the cost-of-living crisis and inflation can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
Pre-existing mental health conditions: previous mental health conditions can also impact your mental health at university.
Your mental can then impact many things during your time at university such as your academic performance, usually, students with mental health issues will face difficulties when it comes to their studies due to poor concentration, memory, and motivation which will lead to a decrease in performance and grades. Mental health issues can impact a student’s ability to form and maintain social relationships which could be going out less and isolating themselves or having greater social anxiety. In certain university environments, students may also turn to substances such as alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism but this can lead to addiction and even worsen mental health problems. Bad mental health can also impact your physical health and your hobbies it can lead to more fatigue, headaches, tiredness, and more physical symptom. overall, mental health issues can have a significant impact on the overall well-being and success of university students, this then strongly highlights the need for support and resources to help students that are being affected by mental health issues. “'Good mental health is vital for students. In short, happy and healthy students are successful students,' explains Sarah Richardson, head of student services at the University of Derby.”
Help is always available on how to deal with your mental health
First of all, if you are suffering from mental health issues it is so important to let someone know so you can get all the help and support needed you don’t have to go through it alone. One of the best places to start is the student support or well-being team and your university which are usually dedicated to helping and dealing with mental health issues or just a listening ear and they will give you the advice and support needed especially academic-wise. Your GP can also be an option they can diagnose and refer you to the right services which can include therapy. Many organisations such as the Mental Health Foundation, Mind, Papyrus, Sane, and Student Minds provide excellent advice and support. Reaching out to friends and family can be a great relief.
There are many ways to look after your mental health whilst at university. Socialise as much as possible and create a supportive group of friends, continue doing the things you love and that bring you happiness, keep yourself physically fit and eat healthily, keep your personal space tidy, take walks, download apps, and many more. Don’t overwhelm yourself too much and always remember to put yourself first.