4 September 2017

Mental Health Resources Available to you at University

Mental Health Resources Available to you at University
It's that time of year again: kids are back in school, and students are getting ready to head back to uni, or go for the first time. University can be incredible daunting, and even if you're excited about going, it can have an impact on your mental health. 

I was ecstatic to be going to uni. I was ready to embrace my new-found freedom, study a subject I loved and create a whole new me. At the time, it seemed like it would only help my mental health problems, but in reality they got worse before they got better. The freedom I found allowed me to engage in more self-destructive behaviours, with no one who knew me to keep an eye on me. I really needed help, and thankfully I found a good set of friends to keep me in check, but I totally relied on the resources my uni offered to help keep me afloat.

So, if you're worried about losing your support network from home, or think you'll be struggling with your mental health when you start uni, here are some really important resources that may be available. Every institution is different, so I'll cover as much as possible, but just be aware that you might not have access to all of these.

1.) Nightline. This is one of the best services some universities offer IMO. Nightline is open at night, and trained students are there to talk through any problems with you. You can email them, text them, call them, or drop in to wherever your Nightline is. It's a completely safe space. If seeing or talking to someone out loud makes your anxiety flare up then this is a great option. It also means that if anything goes wrong on a night out, or you feel alone and concerned, there's always somewhere to go where you'll be looked after.

2.) GPs. They can be a bit hit and miss, granted, but student GPs tend to be more aware of mental health problems that being at uni can exacerbate. They can also refer you onto other services like CBT (read about my experiences with it here) and CRISIS teams.

3.) Student counselling. This is something I was too nervous and unstable to take up when I was at uni, but I wish I had. Most institutions offer some form of counselling, and often they have a variety of forms. There can be one on one, group and email counselling. Look into what your university offers to see what would fit your needs most.

4,) Talk to your personal tutor or resident tutor. If you feel unsafe, or think your MH is going to start affecting your ability to do work, then talk to a mentor. They can advise you on how to proceed, and, if you need it, authorise things like deadline extensions.

5.) Visit a MH drop in centre. These offer you the chance to head into a safe space a couple of times a week to talk confidentially about what's affecting your mental health. 

6.) Call the Samaritans or 111 if you're struggling and nothing else is available at that time. The Samaritans is an invaluable resource. They're able to answer emails as well as phone calls, and are all fully trained on how to deal with crisis situations. They're there 24/7 and no call is unimportant: if you feel unsafe with yourself and your mental state, then contacting them can be incredibly useful. Their number is 116 123.

I really hope this is helpful! 

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