We should all be mindful of our mental wellbeing and look to ensure we take time to consider our own needs. In times of transition and change, such as starting university this is even more important but often so easily forgotten amongst all the other competing demands for our time and attention.
Here are some key suggestions for managing your mental health and accessing support should you need.
- University is often a time when you may wish to ‘move on’ ‘go it alone’ ‘see how things go’ – all perfectly natural. However, if you’ve experienced mental health difficulties and/or have a current diagnosis, it’s worth taking some time for you to consider your needs and keep your mental wellbeing a priority. Seeking support at an early stage helps to maintain your successful and healthy time at university.
- Linking with your GP is very important. Upon starting university, we recommended registering with the Campus Surgery. It’s also worth having an appointment with them to let them know about your past needs and any current ones. It often helps to have made that first contact prior to needing them for a more urgent appointment as you will often feel more comfortable about the process. If you have been advised that your care from a previous MH Trust is being transferred locally, your GP will be able to follow this up for you, so it’s important to mention this in your first appointment with a GP to avoid any undue delays.
- If you have had a care plan/ crisis plan/relapse plan in the past, have you looked at it recently? It’s a really good idea to review what worked to maintain your mental wellbeing in the past and consider how to put that in place now you’re at university. You may need to consider changing some resources to ensure they are local ones to you now and consider how your new university life affects your support structure. You may wish to add in new distraction techniques or sources of support. For example, if you are on campus you will have the Residential Life Team who can be a good source of support and guidance and also, our Community Safety team who are our mental health first aiders. You are likely to discover new interests and activities at university that you can add to any wellness plan. Thinking about what keeps you well is just as important as having a plan for managing a crisis. If you feel that you need additional support to build on your safety/wellness plan or wish to develop one, additional advice and support can be accessed via the Wellbeing Support Services web pages.
- When looking at your support network, have you considered how often you will link with family and friends? Will you discuss any difficulties with them? It’s often worth considering the support that was in place prior to university and looking at how you maintain some of this. For example, instead of the chat over dinner with your parents that you may have found really helpful to talk through the day, you may want to plan in a post dinner phone call catch up.
- If you begin to struggle with your mental health, know that this is not uncommon. There are so many changes that you undertake when starting at university that a small wobble or a period of destabilisation can be common. There are a number of ways to seek support and guidance to help get things back on track:
1. The Wellbeing web pages have lots of self-help resources and information about services. Sometimes watching a short video or reading through some self-help literature reminds us of techniques used and can get you back on track.
2. Arranging a GP appointment is always a good option.
3. You can also access a brief consultation at Wellbeing – you will be seen the same day by a professional wellbeing advisor if you contact between 10am-3pm. This will be a brief consultation to give you some advice and ensure you are directed to the most appropriate support, either within the wider wellbeing service or other University support structures.
4. There are a small number of Mental Health nurses within wellbeing support services– we have a very specific role within Wellbeing Support to help those students with significant mental health needs or those having a MH Crisis. If appropriate, we will work with you to determine your needs and ensure that, alongside your GP, you gain access to appropriate treatment and support. This may involve seeing us on a short term basis and/or we may assist you in accessing local MH services – this will depend on your needs.
5. It also important that you keep in touch with your personal tutor and department. You will find that both the University as a whole and individual departments have events and processes to support you to manage your time at university. Booking a session with your personal tutor can give you the opportunity to discuss any difficulties and look to solutions to aid your academic progress.
6. Out of office hours– support is still available and you can access all the emergency contact numbers from the Wellbeing web pages.
Remember, you will already have lots of internal strategies and techniques that you can draw upon to assist in your transition to University life. You can also access a large range of support options from within the University and from outside agencies, online resources and apps that are all designed to enhance positive mental wellbeing.
So don’t forget to reach out if you need, as the support is available.