World Mental Health Day: Why it’s so Important for Students

Kayla Jenkinson 10 October 2018
World Mental Health Day: Why it’s so Important for Students

It’s time to get real now. Mental health is no laughing matter, and it’s especially important for us students. Here’s why:

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1. Our lives are stressful as hell.

Between balancing studying, a social life, a budget, and a part-time job (which, let’s be honest, is a likely requirement for most people) we don’t have much time left for focusing on how we actually feel. Taking a moment to slow down and sort yourself out is super needed.

2. Positive mental health massively improves our performance in everything.

Essays, coursework, exams… if we aren’t thinking straight, our grades won’t be as good. Take plenty of time to plan, research and write. If you leave everything ‘til the last second, chances are you’ll be stressed, and your work won’t be good enough. It’s blunt, but it’s the truth.

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3. It’ll also help a social life.

Though admittedly a vicious circle, for some people it’s the case that a good social life improves mental health, and having good mental health increases your wanting for a social life. (Note, though: this isn’t the case for everyone. If you’re an introvert, don’t force yourself to socialise. Time for yourself is equally important.)

4. At university, you may find yourself feeling suddenly swamped or out of place.

You might feel like you’re not good enough, or that there are no societies for you, or that you feel cast aside in terms of your sexuality, religion, political preference or race. This can affect your mental health hugely, and should not be taken lightly. Not only will it affect your studies, but your life in general. Regarding such things, be confident, don’t listen to any negativity, don’t get into conflict and seek someone with authority that can help you resolve the issue. Don’t stay in silence.

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5. A poor mental health can lead to a decrease in your ability to perform daily tasks.

When you may be faced with living independently for the first time, you need to be feeling in a good condition to cook, clean and wash your clothes. Don’t beat yourself up if you mess up and don’t clean for a few days though – it happens. What matters is that the slump is temporary, and you pick yourself back up.

6. If you’re in a good mental condition, you’ll be more receptive to feedback and advice from tutors, lecturers and friends.

At the end of the day, you’re at uni to learn and earn that degree, and getting the best grades you can get relies on being proactive with areas you need to improve on.

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Some tips for a good mental health:

- Try and manage your stress.

Get a diary, cut out a bad habit, tackle problems head-on instead of burying your head in the sand and ignoring them.

- Eat well.

Try and get your daily intake of 5 fruit and veg a day, don’t binge on unhealthy foods too often (of course, a cheat day is allowed every so often!)

- Take up a new hobby.

Or continue something you enjoy. As well as improving your general mood, stimulating your mind with a fun activity will improve general well-being.

- Get plenty of sleep.

We ideally need around 8 hours a night of sleep to wake up feeling refreshed – while we acknowledge sometimes this just isn’t possible, it’s a good daily goal to keep in mind.

- Exercise.

It doesn’t have to be an intense hour workout in a pair of tight joggers at the gym, but even a brisk 30-minute walk outside will chirp you up massively.

- Try and avoid bad habits.

Not only is it expensive for students, but bad habits such as excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and drugs, are not good for your physical and mental health, and should ideally be kept to a minimum.

- Socialise.

We acknowledged before that this isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine, but for the majority of people socialising every so often can bring a huge mood uplift. Even if it’s a meet up in a coffee shop – do it.

- Budget.

You don’t want money troubles on top of any other potential stresses, and an easy way to budget is to ask yourself “Do I need this?” Treating yourself is fine, but keep that overdraft under control.

- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

There will be plenty of systems set up in your uni that are there for you, and to help you. Try seeking out academic advisors, personal tutors, department tutors, the student union, a nightline (if you have one), counselling, or any other mental health network. Alternatively, there are charities such as The Samaritans that offer free, confidential advice and are always there to listen.

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Kayla Jenkinson 10 October 2018