Breaking the Silence – Talking about Mental Health at University
Students who suffer from mental health issues often find it difficult to talk about their feelings. With the stigma surrounding mental health, many people worry that others won’t understand and end up suffering in silence, but the likelihood is that you’re not actually alone.
You might be surprised at how many other people are going through the same thing.
According to a government survey, at least a quarter of students in the UK have experienced a mental health problem of some sort, the most common being depression and/or anxiety.
There are numerous high profile campaigns running at the moment aimed at ending the stigma attached to mental health issues but one that is specific to students is University Mental Health Day, run jointly by the charity Student Minds and the University Mental Health Advisers Network. Celebrated on 1st March 2018, the campaign wants to emphasise the role of the community at university and encourage a sense of belonging.
Everyone at university, whether you are a student or a member of staff, has a vital role to play in improving awareness around mental health, and promoting the support that is available.
Time to talk
So we all know that a problem shared is a problem halved but do you even begin to talk about mental health, particularly if it is you who is suffering?
Approaching someone at university can be daunting. How do you even start? Who should you actually tell? What are they going to think?
Having that initial conversation is always going to be a difficult step, but typically, once you’ve taken the plunge and got everything out in the open, it will feel like such a massive relief. Once the ball is rolling, it can help you access additional support should you need it.
The important thing to remember is that there are people out there who will understand so please don’t worry about being judged. We are all human, and you can guarantee that most people, whether at university or not, will have experienced a mental health issue at some point during their life whether it’s the stress of exams, a break-up of a relationship or simply feeling homesick.
Deciding who to speak to can be a huge factor, but you need to do whatever makes you feel comfortable. Everyone is different and whilst some students may find it easier to open up to a close friend, others may want to speak to someone that doesn’t know them.
If you are worried that the state of your mental health is affecting your coursework, it may help to talk to your personal tutor. They are there to support you and will be able to help you if you are going through a tough time. Alternatively you may wish to access the dedicated support services that are on offer at your university, such as disability support or the counselling service.
Take a deep breath and make that first move. Let’s get talking about mental health and help end the deafening silence.
Ahead of #UniMentalHealthDay, Wrexham Glyndwr has been promoting their own campaign WGU4U to show the wide-range of support services on campus and encourage students to open up about their experiences. Find more details at wgu.ac.uk/wgu4u