Mental health is defined by in the Oxford dictionary as a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.
Mental illness or mental health disorder is defined by the NHS as an illness that affects the way people think, feel, behave, or interact with others.
Finally good mental health means you are in a state of wellbeing where you feel good and work productively in the world. It is more than just the absence of mental illness.
As a university student myself, I have felt and still do feel the anxiety and daunting thoughts that come alongside the university life. In this report I will dive into the impact university has on a students mental health, looking at the causes and the effects, and hopefully, make at least one reader feel less alone about their mental health.
Relationship with University
It is undeniable that university can be a stressful experience. The workload can be overloading, socialising can be daunting and living on your own can be lonely. University has always been idolised as the best years of your life. However, for some people and actually majority of people this isn't the case. While it is an exciting time in your life it also can be a very stressful and overwhelming experience. The pressure to perform well academically can be intense, as students strive to achieve good grades in order to secure their future career prospects. As well, the social aspect of university can also be difficult for some students, as they may struggle to make friends or fit in with other students. All of these factors contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety, which can have a negative impact on mental health.
Lets Talk Statistics
According to ONS, 37 percent of first-year university students surveyed in England have symptoms of depression and anxiety. That is higher than the general population of those aged 16-29 which is 22 percent. This shows that impact University has a direct impact on peoples mental health. So what can be done about?
How you can improve your mental health
There are multiple ways a students can manage their stress levels and look after their mental wellbeing while at university. For example, taking regular breaks from studying and participating in activities such as exercise or hobbies can help reduce stress levels and improve mood about their course work. A simple activity could be going for a walk, as for many students it helps them get out their room and refresh their mind. For students struggling with the social side of university, my advice would be to not overthink and put yourself out there. Everyone feels the same about University and everyone comes alone, therefore everyone is looking for a friend. Joining societies or sports clubs are the best way to meet new people, activities will be organised for you so you don't have plan them yourselves or stress about going alone as you are meant to be meeting new people there. Additionally, seeking support from friends or family members or talking to a counsellor about any worries or concerns can be beneficial. Many Universities have counsellors in place for students to talk to, some also have given students a designated tutor or mentor to talk to for advice or guidance. The main way to improve mental health is by talking about it and realising the way you are feeling is not abnormal but actually the norm at University. As stated in the statistic above, it is more likely you will feel this way at university so do not blame yourself.
University should not cost you your mental health
As discussed, University can be a stressful time for many students, but it is important to take care of yourself and prioritise your mental health. It is important to remember that everyone experiences stress differently and that it is okay to ask for help when needed. Do not set yourself expectations that you must be making loads of friends, going out every night and managing your studies at the same time. It's impossible! Do not put pressure on yourself and cost you your happiness, remember you are not the only one feeling this way. As well you are already paying for this experience, don't pay for it with your mental health too.