The power of talking

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. Sharing personal experiences around mental health can help others feel less alone and help to raise awareness around important topics, so today Mental Health Awareness Week one of our Student Mental Health Champions shares her experiences in struggling with mental health difficulties. Throughout the week there are lots of activities to get involved with as a great way to meet new people and do something relaxing for your wellbeing. For more information go to the Healthy NTU SharePoint.

By Chloe, a current 1st year MSc Psychology part time NTU student

Living with a mental illness can be challenging to manage at any point. However, as a student at this time of year, with deadlines and exam preparation well under way, I have found this added stress is having a negative impact on my overall mental wellbeing.

This year was meant to be different. Returning to education was a new start and a chance to rebuild my life after facing a series of mental health challenges in recent years. The return to uni was a big lifestyle change and it is something that I am still adjusting to.

For many students going to uni is the first time being away from home and they can be far away from everything they have ever known. When I was an undergraduate in my first year, I felt excited about the new opportunities I was going to experience. But I quickly found that I was in a city that I didn’t know, with people I wasn’t familiar with and I had an expectation that I was meant to be having a packed and exciting social life. All this can be a lot of pressure and at the time it left me feeling very lost. Now, as a mature student going back to uni after a long break and living at home, I have found the experience to be unlike my first time going to uni. The challenges are different as I now have other commitments but I have begun to allow myself to accept there will be times when I feel lost and there is no shame in that.

Undoubtedly one of the hardest things about living with a hidden illness is how lonely it often leaves me feeling. I can sometimes feel as I am not worth people’s time and support, that the only thing I can do is to run away from my feelings and that I am alone in feeling this way. Whether we are struggling with our mental health or just not feeling at our best, the first thing many of us do to cope is to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world.

Despite having a supportive network of people around me, I often feel like I am the only one struggling with these feelings of loneliness. However, one of the things that is helping me through this challenging time is maintaining social contact with others. Although in the short term I find that retreating from the world and withdrawing into myself feels like the safest thing to do, it has been beneficial for me to reach out for help by talking to family, my peers and tutor. It has given me the opportunity to feel heard and to work through my problems with the support of others.

When we talk about how we are feeling it can help us see things from a different perspective. So, if you feel you would like things to change, perhaps speaking to someone you trust could be a start.

If you are struggling right now, know that you are not alone!

For help, advice and resources whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.

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