My Journey with Mental Health at University

Written by Louise, Social Media and Events Executive at Abodus

Personally, nothing prepares you for starting University. It’s different for everyone and its completely a unique journey. Good, bad whatever the experience, I suppose the benefit in my 4 years is how it has strengthened me as an individual and taking it as a learning curve.

Your new life really shapes after Freshers and the initial first few weeks of coming into the reality of university, it really isn’t as glamorous as it looks. For someone considering going to university, my first bit of advice would be to find the balance. Go out, enjoy yourself, be that fresher you’re supposed to be and take the time to get to know who you live with and the people you might be around for a big amount of your university life, but don’t overdo it.

Looking after yourself mentally isn’t something I forgot, but something I didn’t prioritise and work more towards. We’re adults, there’s a big step up in responsibility in making your own decisions, attendance and within your workload. It isn’t school, in my experience no one checks up on you and nothing prepared me for that.

Second semester is where I had to take time out and really prioritise all aspects of my health, looking back that was more than okay. Own decision, I moved 3 hours from home to study in Bournemouth, a place I fell in love with when attending open days and decided this was for me. Being that far from home, I did not feel the impact until I realised when I was struggling how difficult it was for me to take time out to go home and look after myself and have a change of scenery.

As much as it may be daunting, having that friend relationship with your lecturers and course leaders is a hand hold when I was mentally checked out as I phrase it, as missing sessions yes wasn’t ideal, but my reasoning could be communicated with the people I had trust in and that needed to know. That’s just another advice tip of mine. For me, I was taking time out every term for my mental health but to reiterate, there is nothing wrong with recognising you need help or time to yourself to feel yourself again. If you need to, just do it and from experience, be selfish and do what’s best for you.

Choosing the right course for me, took a while. I started out on one course and after the first year, I had moved course and even university and it was recognising that was the issue, which made me better off. Every aspect of university life is valid, the course, where you live, the city and university, it all makes up as part of your experience and again, if something isn’t right for you, with the amount of money we end up paying its fair you do what’s best for you. Don’t like your course? Look at other options or decide whether to continue. Hate your university or the area you live? From experience, if you don’t like the place, move. Once you don’t feel comfortable or the feeling of home goes, generally hard to get it back.

I know quite a lot of people won’t but its not embarrassing to reach out for help. Majority of Universities have services and provide support for pretty much anything you may be struggling with and it is amazing how many people don’t realise it. Having graduated, I miss having the services free and more accessible than it is now for young people. Take advantage and utilise what’s on offer, without trying to help yourself you never know the impact it could have.

The nights where you don’t know where to go, who to talk to, feeling like you aren’t worth anything and just feel a waste of space, personally lost count of those evenings where it was bad but here on the other side having graduated and come out on the other side, it is doable and there is a way out. To be realistic, I contemplated dropping out 5 times, twice I filled in the forms and went to submit but didn’t, and I made it through every year of my studies. It’s way more common then you may believe, majority of my flat debated it and even as so did drop out and it’s important to say even if you did, it is nothing to be made to feel bad about, university is not for everyone. For me, it definitely wasn’t for me but sticking it out proved worthwhile at the end of it.

From day one I met one of my best friends to this day, maybe that was the deal breaker for me. Making friends at this age in this environment believe it or not is hard, might look easy for some from a social media point of view, but it is definitely not everyone’s reality. Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t get on with your flat, there’s other options of living each year and you have the opportunity to change that and expand your relationships elsewhere.

Utilise societies, seriously. I joined a society called the ‘Cocktail Society’, we just met and drank, simple as that. For me I didn’t utilise every single event they did, or every meet but I did have that involvement when wanted and I made some really good friends through the group but main point, there was always an invitation and something to do which societies give you. There are many societies, obviously each student union varies but there are many clubs/groups on offer which I can’t stress enough, research and find out. I believe being part of a society made a considerate positive impact to my university experience.

For all that university is worth and the amount of money we pay for, your mental health is more important over any of that. Please remember that. Reaching out is free, whether it’s your friends, accommodation provider, lecturers or even the support services, there are people there you can speak to and I’m sure would be happy to have a chat, nothing isn’t worth chatting about. Reaching out is the first step and once you’ve done the first step, the rest should be a breeze. Don’t suffer in silence and as mentioned, utilise everything on offer to you. They are there for a reason and they will be more than happy to help with anything you wish to have support on.

 If you are struggling or know of anyone going through a really rough time and could benefit from support, we at Abodus Student Living would like to push that we are also a service that can be used and to please reach out to us if you need support. Regardless site location, we are here for all of our residents and want to stress reaching out to us will be strictly confidential and can be here for a chat if needed and whatever else we can do, we will do all we can. Please don’t hesitate to message @abodus_student_living on Instagram, this is personally myself and hope with my experience, I could help other students and offer advice where I can.