In light of University Mental Health Day, Sam shares her tips for opening up about your mental health and discusses the importance of seeking help and building a support network.
University Mental Health day is an important day that brings attention to the mental health challenges that students face while pursuing their academic and personal goals. It is an opportunity to highlight the importance of looking after our mental health and well-being every day, and to encourage individuals to open up about their struggles and seek help when needed.
As a neurodiverse student, I understand firsthand how mental health challenges can be unique and complex. Recently, I was told I’m autistic, which has allowed me to understand myself better and the difficulties I have faced. I have come to realise that what works for others may not work for me… and that’s okay! Our challenges are unique to each individual and, although it takes time, it’s worth spending quality time to find out what works for us best.
According to a survey by The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI):
Nearly one in four students reported having a mental health condition, with depression and anxiety being the most common.
The survey also found that students who identify as LGBTQI+ or had a disability were more likely to experience a mental health condition than their peers.
However, only 36% of students sought professional help, indicating a strong need for increased support and resources for students.
While seeking professional help and support is a positive step towards better wellbeing, it’s also essential to build a support network and surround ourselves with helpful, empathetic people who can sustain these positive feelings: encouraging us and providing a safe space for sharing our experiences.
It can be challenging to open up about our mental health struggles but open discussions are essential in understanding ourselves and allowing others to support us better.
Recently, I had the opportunity to open up about my journey with anorexia at university as a part of my university’s “Let’s Talk Campaign” for Eating Disorders Awareness Week. It was a scary but rewarding experience. I had only shared my struggles with a limited number of people, and I never imagined that I would have the confidence to be so open! However, the positive feedback I received from friends and members of staff showed me that sharing my experiences was worth it and will help others.
The most important thing to remember is that we have to be kind to ourselves and regularly practise self-care. Self-care can look different for everyone and can include activities such as meditation, exercise, crafts, reading, or spending time with loved ones. For me, yoga and ice skating have become my sources of happiness and relaxation. University Mental Health Day reminds us of the importance of prioritising our mental health and seeking help and support when needed. It is essential to open up about our struggles and surround ourselves with a supportive community that uplifts us. Let us use this day to take a step towards better mental health and well-being.