Mental health as a student at university

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Written by a Phoebe Formby a current 3rd year BSc Psychology BSc student 

Mental health… tricky one isn’t it? The problem is that sometimes you don’t know why you feel the way you do. So how are you supposed to know what do about it? Well… read on for some tips I learned during my first two years at university.

This blog is written with the intent to provide you with some tips that I learned from being a student. I hope they will be as valuable to you as they were to me. Now, the typical points of advice that you hear in pretty much every mental health support leaflet are important. These include hydration, regular exercise, eating properly ect. However, you’ve heard those all before. This blog is therefore designed to equip you with the juicy information from a uni student who’s done it all before!

Firstly, it is important for you to know that here at NTU, we provide support for students who are struggling. We have a supportive community who are ready to offer advice and support whenever you need it. If you are concerned about any aspect of your mental health, please follow these links:

NTU Student Support Services

Other mental health services:

Mind

NHS 

Before I begin, here’s a little information about me:

My name is Phoebe Formby and I am a mental health champion here at NTU. I moved to NTU at the start of second year after completing my first year at university in Leeds. Quite frankly, I would describe my first year at Leeds as none other than a complete disaster. I hated the uni, I couldn’t stand my halls, my flatmates were horrible, the year pretty much blew from day 1 and my mental health wasn’t exactly peachy. However, flash forward one year and I have incredible friends, I love my university, my house is lovely, my mental health is better than it’s ever been, and Leeds is but a distant memory. I guess what I’m trying to say is that better days are coming, so don’t lose hope.

Tip 1:

Now I know you’ve probably heard this hundreds of times, but creating strong, healthy friendships is crucial for positive mental health at University. Knowing other people are facing the same challenges as you is invaluable. Nonetheless, it’s not always as simple as “making friends”. Meeting new people and creating relationships can be hard, which brings me to the first lesson I learned: how to make friends.

First year is like being hit by a wave of people from all walks of life (some from places you’ve never even heard of!), so it can be hard to figure out which ones are your kind of people. I thought it would be easy to find people like me in first year, which was eventually the case, however, it took me some time! There are so new many people to meet during freshers week and, if you’re anything like me, having too many options can make you feel overwhelmed and intimidated.

If this happens to be the case for you, don’t panic! Try to view this sea of people as potential friends, not threats. Most of them are just as nervous as you are. Starting up a conversation in freshers week is easy peasy because 99.9% of freshers want to find common ground with someone (just like you do) so you’ll most likely be met with a good response. I recommend making one friend and meeting all of their friends. This strategy is a great idea for those of you who feel overwhelmed by large numbers of people. Once you feel comfortable with your new found friend, you might ask them to introduce you to their other friends and who knows!? Maybe you’ll love their other friends even more.

Tip 2:

Picture this: The haze of settling in is clearing, your blood alcohol levels are decreasing, your liver is starting to make a recovery and you have a headache like no other. You have most likely spent the week meeting new people, but as things settle down, you realise that your whole life has changed. You’re in a new city, with new people, in a new house, studying a new course. For most of you, this is incredibly exciting. However, some of you (like me), may be experiencing feelings of anxiety. I mean, let’s face it! You’re living with people who a few weeks ago were complete strangers. This can be intimidating and uncertain. This is where tip 2 comes in handy: Bring a packet of doorstops for you and your flat. Weird one I know but trust me. If you jam your door open, the opportunity for conversation widens and it can stop you feeling secluded from your housemates. You’ll be surprised how many conversations you’ll end up having as people pass by your room and who knows… maybe someone will invite you to the shops.

Tip 3:

Don’t underestimate the importance of your room. Your university room is the one place that is totally and completely yours. It should be a safe space that you can retreat to whenever you feel the need. Halls and uni houses are designed to be communal which is great for socialising when you want to, but one thing I realised is that having my own space was crucial for the times I felt anxious, low or simply a little overwhelmed with everything. I knew I could retire to my room to focus on my thoughts.

This is where my third tip comes in: Put effort into decorating your room. Make it a place you enjoy spending time in; a place that makes you happy. Put up photos of things that make you laugh, or photos of the people who mean something to you. When things turned ugly in Leeds my room was my haven, it was a safe space where nobody could get to me, so I needed to feel like it was my own. Make sure that when you enter your room, you feel like you’ve come home.

Have fun guys! NTU is great 🙂

Don’t forget that Student Support Services are still here to support you and we are regularly posting through TwitterFacebook and Instagram as well as over on the Virtual Global Lounge Team

For help and advice whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.
Support from NTU
Silvercloud: SilverCloud is our online system designed to help with a range of mental health issues.
Depression advice
Counselling
Wellness in Mind: Advice and support for anyone in Nottingham experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing
Struggling at Uni? Go to Student Minds
10 Keys to happiness


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