Student mental health – It’s time to talk

Student mental health is declining. Mental health doesn’t discriminate. It can affect each and every one of us. It’s time to challenge the stigma which surrounds mental health.

Shocking student mental health statistics show that 1 in 4 people suffer and the chances are you know someone or you have a mental health illness. It’s time to stop suffering in silence. Mental health doesn’t define you!

What are mental health problems?

Mental health is our thoughts, actions and emotions. A mental health problem can interfere with our everyday lives. At times it may feel impossible to carry out daily tasks. Anxiety and depression are the most common and can have a negative effect on how we act, think and feel.

Are you unsure whether you or someone else is suffering from a mental health problem? We’ve put together some of the telltale signs:

  • Eating/sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities usually found pleasurable
  • Having little or no energy
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Irritable and mood swings
  • Persistent low moods
  • Smoking or drinking more than usual, or using drugs

Student stresses

Being a student can add a lot of stress to your daily life and at times these can seem like too much to handle. Although stress isn’t classed as a mental illness it can lead to them. Student mental health statistics show that most people develop mental health problems before the age of 24. Of those who suffer from mental health illnesses, 74% have anxiety related problems and 77% have depression. Vice-chancellors across the UK are putting mental health at the top of their agenda.

Studying can have a big impact on your finances, especially when living away from home. Some students struggle to deal with the price tag associated with university tuition fees. Many students have to take out a student loan which leaves them in a large sum of debt.

It’s important to remember that a student loan is considered good debt and you won’t be expected to pay it all back in one go. If you started your course after the 1st September 2012 you’ll be on a plan 2 repayment scheme. You’ll only start paying it back once you’re earning over £25,000 per year.

For a plan 1 student loan, the repayment threshold is £18,330 per year. Students who took an undergraduate course before 1 September 2012 or Scottish or Northern Irish students will be on a plan 1.

How to handle student stresses?

Handling student stresses can be increasingly difficult when dealing with a busy workload at university and managing time spent revising. Stress can be added to this if you have a part-time job alongside your studies. To try and de-stress you should set aside an hour each day to spend time doing what you want to. Whether that’s going for a walk, grabbing a coffee with a friend or reading a book.

How does social media impact mental health?

Social media can be beneficial when communicating with family and friends. Social media also negatively impacts users. As we live in the digital age, there are unrealistic pressures to be seen as ‘perfect’ online. Instagram is one of the biggest culprits for setting unrealistic expectations amongst young people.

Studies suggest that there is a strong link between depression and social media users. Many social media users compare their lives with other and people often forget the filter behind the picture, status or tweet. Everyone wants to portray a positive lifestyle on social media and people often forget this.

How can you help someone with student mental health problems?

If you think someone you know may be suffering from their mental health then there are things you can do to help support them. Try to get them to open up about their feelings and if needed advise them to seek a professional.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental illness there are people you can speak to! See the list below:

  • Your GP
  • Mind
  • The Samaritans
  • University counsellor (many universities have a free and confidential counselling service)

Celebrities helping to break the stigma from mental illnesses

Many celebrities are trying to help break the negative connotations related to mental health. From Amanda Seyfried to Zayn Malik, Will Young, Jade Thirwall, Demi Lovato, Tyson Fury and on World Mental Health Day, Prince Harry spoke out about the importance of talking about mental illness without feelings of shame.

It’s time to talk…

The taboo topic of mental illness needs addressing. Speaking out about student mental health is crucial. The damaging effect of staying quiet can lead to the condition worsening. Speaking out about the stresses of daily life will put you on the right path to recovery.

Universities have recently provided more guidance to students looking for support with their mental health difficulties because seeking support is important in helping yourself. Get advice if you’re struggling with life after university.

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