Looking After Your Mental Health In College – One Students Story

We want to put a focus on Mental as well as physical health this week, here we have the words of a UL  student that talks about just that and it’s key reading for absolutely everyone.

Life in UL can be amazing, but also very challenging for lots of us too. We won’t pretend that side of the experience of going to college doesn’t exist. We know it does, and we know it needs to be talked about.

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It’s Important To Look Out For No.1

Mental health can be defined as a person’s psychological and emotional well-being and unfortunately, college can be a time where your mental health is put through the ringer. We, as students, are faced with the tasks of making new friends, living away from home for the first time, budgeting, falling in love and monitoring our own academic input.

Each of these transitions, if not handled in a supportive, patient and self-caring manner can result in conditions such as depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders etc., which can affect our mental health, not only during our college experience but also later in life. Furthermore, each of these conditions can be deemed a gateway issue to further complications for our psychological well-being, resulting in an increased inability to be successful in our academic endeavours.

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College Is The “Best 4 Years Of Your Life”

The majority of these issues could stem from students feeling a lack of control and inadequacy, especially when we are told that college will be the best four years of our life, and that is certainly what I was expecting. As I sat in class for my first ever college lecture, a torrent of feelings swirled inside me. This was it, this was my fresh start. I didn’t know these people and they didn’t know me. I no longer had to be the girl that had suffered with general anxiety disorder, depression and self-harm. I could be the person I always wanted to be, but if you fast forward to one week later, it didn’t quite work out like that. After my second SPSS class (Statistics – yes, feel my pain), I found myself in the bathroom in floods of tears doubting my ability to do any of this, it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I wasn’t what I was expecting.

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You Need To Be Able To Help Yourself, and Ask For the Help of Others

After struggling through school and dropping out of it twice as a result of my mental health, I realised that I didn’t want my college experience to be the same as every other previous experience: a total nightmare. I felt very alone with my feelings, everyone else seemed to be settling in fine, little cliques were forming here and there and I felt like I just didn’t fit it. I knew from past experience that suffering in silence was about the worst thing I could do, so I knew I had to take steps towards looking after my own mental health while I was here.

Not knowing my first port of call, I emailed the tutor of the class that ‘broke me’, told her my fears and she sent back a lovely email outlining what options she knew were available to possibly help me. I decided that one of my first missions was to introduce myself to every lecturer I had. I needed to make them aware of who I was, it would then make it so much easier to go to them if I felt I was struggling with something in a module, and it did! I then emailed the on-campus counselling service and set up regular sessions there which I found invaluable. I saw so many students using the drop-in centre during my times there, which was comforting in a way, as I felt I wasn’t alone in my struggles here.

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You Are Not Alone!

As the weeks went by there were ups and downs and I can honestly say it took me a full seven weeks before I felt like I was going to be able to get through college, and not only get through it, but actually enjoy my experience here. By talking to the lecturers I softened the harshness of academia that one can often be faced with. By engaging in the on-campus services it allowed me also to help fellow students who I found out had been having a similar experience and were too afraid to say anything.

 

Where I am now.

Now in my fourth year I can confidently say that college is one of the best times of your life. If you are willing to care enough about yourself to reach out for help, you can take away some of the worry and replace it with the time and space to find who you are, what you love, and what you are capable of. This is your life and even though you may feel alone, but here in UL the truth is … you definitely aren’t.

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Firstly, thank you to this student who submitted this. Secondly, we talk with students in the HUB regularly about connecting with the counselling drop in, so call in to us or send us a message online if you want more info about it.

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