University Survival Guide: Mental Health

Friday, August 29, 2014

Living away from home can be exciting and scary, but it can also impact your life in good ways and bad ways. The good ways make a difference in how your fun life, by giving independence, confidence and friends. As well, as giving you that fight to do things for your self and not relying on others to do things for you, being able to grow up and start life as an adult.


But, things can impact you in bad ways that can change the way you are and the way you live your life. Stress and worry are big obvious impacts during university life, as course work, lectures and exams can cause you to worry and stress. Stress can start when you develop financial difficulties to, as the added stress to exams and course work builds. You will find that a lot of fellow students all over the country and even the world will probably suffer from stress and worry at some points in their life. There are a lot of groups and support during exam times at university, these help you to find ways of coping with the stress of exams and how to over come it. But, there isn't mush support after or before these times, though there are people you can talk to that can help with financial stress at university. These people can show you how to manage your money, tell you what bursaries could be available to you. They can also give you some advice for finding work to help that financial struggle. You can even talk to your GP if the stress is becoming unbearable, or affecting you body physically. This is a great way to find professional help, though, it doesn't always happen straight away. You may be given medication if stress has caused things such as IBS, Stomach Ulcers or Acid Re-flux. 

Being away from home is a massive life changing moment and your brain can either cope with this or not. You can find that life in halls can cause loneliness and then anxiety, it can be hard making friends in your halls especially if you don't have any thing in common. I would suggest to try and push yourself to make friends with your hall mates near the move in date. This is because the anxiety can start to force walls between you making friends, the longer you leave it the worse the anxiety gets. There are many students that will suffer from anxiety in their halls, so your not alone in the suffer. The anxiety can cause panic attacks, especially when you need to go somewhere that may have people in, such as the kitchen. These panic attacks can be slight or can be much worse, to the point it can cause you to faint or vomit. This anxiety can then lead to loneliness as you start to avoid everyone except your class mates. There is definitely not enough support at university to help combat anxiety, as anxiety isn't a disability know to the universities. This issue, wouldn't be such a disability to the suffers if there was support before the anxiety got so bad. Support in this area is vital and talking to someone about it will start to help the healing, but you need to find the strength to tell someone, this can be hard. But telling someone will help as you will have their support and someone that knows what your going through. Having someone know, will help keep you safety and illness monitored as people that know will know when you are getting bad. Again you can tell your doctor especially if you are starting to find physical pain. I personally started to get pains in my sides, I told the GP  I was under stress and had anxiety with panic attacks. Though, the knowledge of my anxiety and stress was ignored and they presumed I had Kidney Stones. This ignorance could have killed me, as I was then prescribed very strong pain killers that could cause heart failure if taken for long periods of time. With out support fro my family I could have over dosed, as anxiety and stress can lead to depression.

Depression is a very hard to handle once you have it, it can take over your whole life and mind. Depression, is about the worst mental health issue at university, as ignorance and no support can lead to severe depression. This severe depression then can unfortunately and not always lead to suicide. Depression need to be supported and noticed, by friends, teachers and doctors. GP's need a lot more training on how to support depression sufferers as, their negligence can lead to break down of people. If you start to feel yourself becoming a loner and feel like not getting out of bed or being asked with the day then you should seek support. Again universities need a lot more support for depression sufferers as they can become lost and start to fall behind in class and in life. Being able to talk to someone will help the burden and you can find out what things are causing this depression. Depression can lead to strange behaviors, such as going out shopping all the time. This then can lead to financial stress and this financial stress can cause eating disorders.

Eating disorders aren't very common in universities but strange eating habits are. If you already have an eating disorder, university can impact that a lot. As you have limited funds and not everyone get help from mum and dad, you will find the usual food you get at home really expensive. I personally suffer from Bulimia, and during university life it got really bad, I would buy cheap food and binge, but straight after I would be sick. I found it (still find it) a chore to eat and with no-one there telling me to eat or giving me food to eat, I didn't. Having no support there made life had and food was always second to everything else, it was hard coming home weekends being made to eat. I believe the same would be for sufferers of anorexia, having no support you can fall back on yourself and find you disorder getting worse. Universities need to provide support for those sufferers as fall back after over coming stages of eating disorders is far harder than staying and beating your disorder. Support can be found anywhere, friends, family, and even teacher/tutors, so someone know and can help you stay on track. Believe it or not, I personally wouldn't got to the GP about an eating disorder, not because I don't believe it's a serious disorder, but the fact a GP wouldn't do anything. GP's will only start to do something when it is physically apparent, which is terrible as you can develop an eating disorder and start to lose weight, but until you look like bones they generally don't help. Though, if it gets to the point of obvious starvation then seek help from your GP as they will then provide you with medication, food supplements and even counselling.

Remember you are not alone, there are others suffering in the same way as you so don't suffer alone. Tell someone, they will always be understanding and if its family they will always be there to help and support you. No-one can no how bad you are until you tell someone, trust me the support from family and friends really does help you get through the worst or stages. Suggest to the university that there needs to be support, going to your tutors can help start the university recognizing that support is needed.  When the support is there you will see that you are not alone and that you can help sufferers as well as them helping you.

Remember this is just a part of your life, nothing is set in stone. 
You can change it if you want to.
Stay Gorgeous
XOXOX

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