Mental health difficulties are quite common among students at university. Family and friends usually play an important role in supporting you at university. I’ve been at uni for nearly 7 months now, 2 hours away from home, so I thought it would be helpful to provide you guys with some information on surviving uni when you’re battling a mental illness.
University is a new and exciting experience that opens up so many possibilities. However, it can be pretty challenging. When you’ve got mental illness, you face challenges every day. Remember that although you’re going to university, and you might be away from home, you are NEVER ever alone. Remember that.
Having a mental illness does not mean that you have a lack of ability, but your illness may mean that you require some adjustments at university, including with your academic work. Keep in mind the course workload and stress of deadlines. Are you able to manage them, or do you need some adjustments? Remember there are people on campus available to talk to about any issues you may have.
A good thing about university is that they are usually always ready to help you. There are usually special offices or members of staff assigned to students who have disabilities. Tell people around you what strategies work best for you – be your own advocate, and if not, find someone who will be an advocate for you. If onsite facilities are not meeting your mental health needs, do not be afraid to seek other help. There will be local doctors available to make appointments with. Do not give up looking until you find someone who is able and willing to help you.
Remember that having a mental illness is not shameful. If it makes it easier, tell others around you about your mental illnesses. Having someone to open up to about your struggles can help improve your mental well-being. Also remember your medication, therapy and mental health needs. Do you need to take medication at a certain time? If so, create a little reminder on a whiteboard or pin-board in your room to help remind you. In stressful situations or hardships, find something that meets your needs and eases your anxiety. A special educational need toy called a Tangle is what I use in daily life, especially in lectures, to help ease anxieties or low mood.
One of the most important things about surviving university is remembering that you are worthy. Meet lots of new people, smile, hang out, relax, pay attention in lectures, go for a walk and get some fresh air if it gets too much, talk to people who will help you with your mental illnesses, and never be afraid to admit you’re struggling. University is an amazing opportunity to start a new life and provides many new possibilities.
Good luck to everyone leaving for university in the coming September, or some time in the future, and for those of you already at uni – I’m proud of you.
Do not let your mental illnesses define your outcome. EVER.