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Mental health: how to ask for help at university

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Each year 1 in 4 people in the UK suffer from a mental health problem.

This is something you have likely heard before, as professionals become more and more worried about mental wellbeing among both young and old. Yet while the studies and statistics are important, they do not necessarily help those suffering with a mental illness. 

As students move to university and the adrenaline of freshers' week passes many will find themselves struggling with the pressure, as they fight to balance work and social obligations, desperately trying to have the best time of their life. 

This is nothing to be ashamed of, indeed moving out of a family home can be difficult. The pressures of starting university and making friends can make many people feeling overwhelmed or depressed, and can easily exacerbate a pre-existing mental illness.

The greatest problem is when these issues are not addressed, as a manageable situation can soon escalate. 

Below you will find some of the things that you should do when you go to university, as your mental health is important, and getting help will positively impact your work.

Lecturers:

It is important that you talk to your lecturers about any concerns that you have about your mental health. Find a tutor that you feel comfortable with and be open and honest. Ensure they understand the situation and how your work might be affected, and remember to ask for help, including weekly meetings or extensions if needed. This can be difficult, especially at the beginning when you do not know them very well, but it is essential that you do so as soon as possible. Lecturers are usually well informed on such matters and can give you advice on where to access help within the university. Alongside improving your mental health, this can allow you to have access to additional time for assignments and exams. 

Doctors:

If you are concerned about your mental health visit your doctor. They can help you with the medical side of things, including medications, directing you to the appropriate treatment and successfully diagnosing you. This can be hard to do, so if you have someone with whom you are comfortable, consider taking them along with you.

Therapist:

You either love it or hate it, but if your doctor suggests that you give it a try - then do. The first session is an assessment, ensuring that you are in the right place. If the person that assesses you believes that you would benefit from therapy they will match you with a therapist that specialises in your concerns, ensuring you get the best treatment possible. 

Yourself:

Healing starts with yourself. If you are not ready to heal then it will not happen. This can be the most challenging aspect, and will most likely be one of the hardest things you ever do. You are essentially fighting yourself, yet accepting yourself is undoubtedly key. There is no one answer, as everyone is different, thus how you choose to do this is up to you.

On reflection, there is a massive misconception about going to university and it fixing all of your problems, as for many it does not.

As such we ask that when you are ready, seek help from a professional - someone that could point you in the right direction. This could be for anything! There are doctors, therapists, family or friends. Additonally, universities have great systems in place to help you. So why not use them?  

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