Many university students suffer from several mental health issues. These can be far-ranging such as anxiety, depression through to different eating disorders (like bulimia and anorexia). University life may cause these problems to surface for the first time or it may exacerbate existing problems. Either way, it is important to understand that you are not alone and every university has plenty of resources for people suffering with their mental health.
There are many ways students can access mental health services at university. There are counselling services available that are free, and give you access to qualified professionals. You may see these advertised around campus, on the university website or further information can be accessed via your student union, your lecturers or your student reps. If you are struggling with the workload at your university, then first speak to your lecturer. They will hopefully work with you to try and create short-term allowances that can help. If more longer-term support is needed, they may suggest you talk with a support service or your doctor to suggest some reasonable alterations, such as extra time in exams, or extended deadlines on coursework.
It is advised to register with a local doctor whilst at university, especially if you have moved geographically far away from home. This is because your doctor from home may not be aware of local services available to you and may not be able to meet your needs in the same way. You can receive emergency treatment from any doctor surgery for up to 14 days, although we would normally advise you to register promptly with a local university doctor once you are based at university for most of the year. Your doctor will also be able to provide you information on free counselling services, or if necessary refer you to the local mental health team if you are having more severe problems with your mental health. The information discussed with your doctor is always confidential and will not be shared with anyone else unless there is any immediate and severe risk to yourself or other individuals.
There are some student-led organizations that are great resources and support, some examples here in the UK are Student Minds and Nightline, and online self-help such as Students against Depression.
If you find you are sad or feeling down most days of the week and you are finding it difficult to concentrate, enjoy the things you usually do, or unable to complete your usual activities then these are signs you may need to seek help. Other more concerning signs of deteriorating mental health include;
If you or anyone you know is having active thoughts of self-harm or suicide then it is advised to attend your local emergency department urgently and speak to the medical team.
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