Starting university, a new job or project can be daunting, however, when you have the right support around you it can quickly become an exciting journey. Our Student Support and Wellbeing Services offer support to our students to overcome concerns and difficulties, contribute to positive mental, financial and physical wellbeing, and help students to achieve their full potential.
By Elsa Tatam. Published 07 April 2023.
When studying with us, students can expect support with any impairment, disability, medical condition, or injury including those with:
- Specific learning differences / neurodiverse students
- Physical or mobility impairments and injuries
- Sensory impairments
- Mental health difficulties
- Long-standing illnesses or health conditions
- Asperger’s syndrome and autism
- Temporary - We will assist students who have a temporary disability that lasts for a period longer than 3 weeks. Temporary disability can include injuries, e.g. broken arm, or viral infections, e.g. glandular fever
- Pregnancy - Pregnant students can register with our service and can receive reasonable adjustments throughout their pregnancy
Tips on how to get the most from support services:
It can be hard to speak up, and it can be even harder to know how to approach a conversation about your mental wellbeing. Discussing your mental health issues may be daunting, however, it’s vital toward getting the help you need. There’s no right or best way to talk about mental illness issues but having a plan can help to make the process less daunting. Here are some things to help make the conversation more productive.
Choose your confidantes. Talking to people you can rely on to be understanding and supportive will help you practise and gain confidence. This could be a friend, relative, welfare officer and/or GP.
Go at your own pace. If the thought of telling someone what’s been going on feels overwhelming, remember that it’s okay to take it slowly. It’s up to you how much you share.
Don’t downplay or diminish your experiences. Try to be explicit about how you feel. ‘I feel anxious all the time’ or ‘I feel really alone, and I need help.’
The important thing is that you are telling people how you feel and asking for help. Talking about mental health issues, even to one person who is understanding, helps overcome stigma. When you speak up, you’re not only giving yourself a chance to get better; you may unknowingly be paving the way for someone who is still waiting to find their voice.
Common Challenges facing students and ideas on how to overcome them
We can all feel lonely sometimes and it is a completely normal experience. However, for some, loneliness can be an overwhelming and unbearable feeling. Unfortunately, this can be a very difficult feeling to speak about.
It’s common to feel lonely when starting out in a new place, even when surrounded by people- and it can be made worse when we feel we have nobody to share with. We notice it when we feel disconnected and alienated from our surroundings and don’t feel part of a group or event. We may experience it more acutely when we see others who seem at ease, are making friends and are part of groups from which we may feel excluded. But what can you do to change that?
Loneliness can be a sign that essential needs are not being met. Reflect on what these needs are and look to meet these in ways that benefit your wellbeing.
There is nothing wrong with you if you feel lonely or alone. Self-esteem and confidence can take a knock, but loneliness is a normal state and being able to bear loneliness can be a sign of maturation and growth.
Try not to compare yourself to others. Others will tell us what they feel comfortable sharing and may be hiding feelings of loneliness.
Do not wait for other people to visit or speak to you. Take the initiative to strike up a conversation when you can. This can take practice, so don’t worry if it feels uncomfortable or scary at first.
Do whatever makes you happy and does not cause you harm. Do not deprive yourself of things you would like to do as that can contribute to feeling low, demotivated, etc.
Build relationships by being a good friend to others. Try to give others what you would like more of in your life while practising self-care.
You can find lots of useful information online. A good starting point is The Mix website or Mind. You can also read Overcoming Loneliness & Making Friends by Marianna Csoti or Positive Solitude: A Practical Program for Mastering Loneliness & Achieving Self Fulfilment by Rae Andre.
Burnout is defined by exhaustion on all levels - mentally, emotionally and physically. It is not alleviated by sleeping or resting and carries an increasing sense of being cut off from ourselves and others.
Burnout can have an impact on our effectiveness in all areas of life. We may also experience stress, irritability, loss of joy and pleasure, feeling trapped and poor attention. Physical symptoms can include back pain, headaches and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Sufferers may seek to alleviate or distract themselves from these symptoms by binge-watching, drinking alcohol, comfort eating etc.
Burnout can happen when you:
- Work hard but don’t feel valued or appreciated for your efforts
- Find it hard to say no
- Have unrealistic, unmanageable and unattainable expectations
- Prioritise others and their needs over your self-care
- Control or micromanage others or situations
- Hear of another’s difficulties whilst trying to manage your own.
It is important to remember that we cannot do everything, we cannot be perfect and we cannot be everything to everyone.
Burnout is NOT a failure but can be an opportunity for growth and re-direction. It can be an important way of becoming aware of your limits.
What changes can you implement now to feel more at ease?
What changes can you implement in the near future so that things are more manageable?
What support do you need, and how can you ask for it?
What boundaries can you put in place to preserve your health, wellbeing, workload, relationships etc?
Can you find ways to be accountable to yourself to prioritise your self-care?
It may seem overwhelming to start university, and how you go about looking after yourself will look different in every person. You may feel selfish to implement necessary changes for your mental wellbeing, but start small, with things that you feel able to manage daily. Slowly build up boundaries that seem more challenging to enforce. Don’t forget to communicate these to people so they understand what you need and why your actions might be changing.
We understand that people might need some extra support while studying with us. Whether it’s personal or study based, Our Student Support Services are here for you every step of the way.