University Mental Health Day 2022 | The Student Guide

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For 2022, University Mental Health Day will be recognised on Thursday 3rd March.

Understanding your mental health and the potential warning signs is important for everyone. As a student, living away from home in an unfamiliar town or city can be challenging, especially when you first move away. We’ve put together a guide about mental health and the support that is available for you.

What Is Mental Health?

three faces showing how you can feel with mental health issues

Your mental health is vitally important to your overall health. Talking about mental health includes your psychological well-being, your emotional state, and social state. It impacts how you feel, how you think, and how you act, and plays a massive part in how you relate to other people, how you handle stressful situations, and all aspects of your life. Therefore, it is so important to understand your mental health and how it affects your development in life, especially living as a student in what is likely an unfamiliar environment for you, with many challenges and difficult academic and personal choices to make.

Looking after your mental health is just as important as looking after your physical health, we all know we should take care of it, but it is understandable that sometimes we let things slip. Good mental health allows you to think clearly, to react well and to understand what you need to do in any given situation to make the best choice for your life. Poor mental health can happen, and understanding the signs is the first step to gaining better mental health.

Do Other People Suffer With Mental Health Problems?

holding someones hand to show you care during tough times

One of the best things about University Mental Health Day is that it opens up the conversation for students around the country who may be suffering with mental health conditions but feel alone with the problem.

Mental health should not be ignored, and people need to know that there are others feeling the same way as them and that there is support available. Mental health problems affect one in four people in general, and it can be easy to think that you are the only person feeling the way that you do. This is not the case, and it is likely that we all know of someone who has experienced some form of mental health problem.

Common Mental Health Conditions

mental health ideas in a mindmap form

Student culture and the pressures of academia make student mental health problems a growing concern. The following are common mental health conditions to be aware of, and to keep an eye out for your own mental health and for friends around you.

  • Anxiety – one of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in students, anxiety disorders become a problem when worries, tension, and fear about everyday things begin to impact on your ability to perform everyday tasks. Some students suffer anxiety attacks about meeting coursework deadlines, about giving a presentation in front of other people, or about all manner of things.
  • Depression – the most common of student mental health problems that are diagnosed, depression in simple terms is the build-up of a low mood or feeling that lasts for a long time. Those suffering with depression see it impact every aspect of their daily life, preventing them from performing simple tasks.
  • Suicidal feelings – there are more reported incidents of suicide amongst university students and staff than in the wider general public, and the ripple effect this has on the wider university community can be staggering. If you suffer with thoughts about ending your life or you are thinking that people around you would be better off if you were not alive, or you make real plans to end your life, you are suffering with suicidal feelings.

If you are suffering with suicidal thoughts, depression or anxiety, there is help out there for you, you are not alone. The Samaritans provide a team to take your call on 116 123, any time of day or night, every day of the year. It is safe and anonymous, no matter what issue you are facing or wish to discuss.

New Challenges As A Student

girl suffering with mental health during university time

Student mental health is an important issue because the student lifestyle brings with it a unique set of challenges. Studying and living away from home will be a completely different life to what many students have lived before. It’ll be super interesting and open up a world full of endless possibilities, but it is also challenging and could lead to poor mental health if not managed properly.

Some of the challenges that you might face as a student include:

  • Living away from home (homesickness)
  • Managing your own finances and living on a budget
  • Meeting new people and learning how to interact in different work and social groups and settings
  • Meeting coursework deadlines
  • Learning how to talk in public for presentations
  • Preparing for exams
  • Balancing the demands of university work with other commitments
  • Living with new people

All of these challenges can have an impact on your mental health and there are certain aspects of being a student that make you more susceptible to suffering from mental health problems, including your age, the stress attached to studies, and being away from a supportive network and family life for the first time. If you are already suffering with a mental health condition, the transition into student life might not be easy, but we’re here to try make it easier for you!

What Are The Common Signs Of Poor Mental Health For Students?

student at university with mental health issues

There are a few tell-tale signs that either you, or someone you know, is struggling with a mental health problem as a student.

  • A loss of concentration and a lack of focus
  • Sleeping more often and during the day
  • Absences from university lectures
  • Angry outbursts and aggressive behaviour
  • Isolation from wider social groups and situations
  • Extreme weight loss or gain
  • Poor personal hygiene that is out of the ordinary
  • Appearance of heightened anxiety or worry

Some of these signs might not necessarily mean there is anything to worry about but could be a sign of a larger mental health problem and it is always worth checking in on someone if you are worried about them.

What is University Mental Health Day?

talking about University Mental Health Day

University Mental Health Day will take place on 3rd March 2022. It brings together the university community with the aim of making mental health a priority. The idea is to create year-round change to the way student mental health is looked at and discussed. It is vital that the country speaks about student mental health, as it is a large portion of the population facing unique challenges that could lead to a strain on mental health.

The campaign has been successful over the years through thorough research into the mental health of both students and higher education staff, supplying materials and guidance to people running events on campuses throughout the country and to empower students and the university communities around the country to protect their mental health and provide support for all.

Why University Mental Health Day Is Important

students working hard learning at university to gain a degree

Student life and the student population is a complex combination of many different types of people, as in any walk of life. It isn’t that simple to just label all students with the tag, and this can be said of student mental health. University Mental Health Day is important in trying to change the narrative about students generally, but in particular about student mental health.

With over 2 million students in UK universities, there will always be a sizeable proportion of that number who are facing challenges with life. Whether this is financial pressure, social anxiety or getting behind with university work, there are many things that can cause poor mental health. University Mental Health Day provides the means to improve the talk around mental health and provide greater level of support nationwide. Improving knowledge of mental health within the university environment will help to improve things gradually.

How To Get Involved

people fundraising to help students mental health

If you do want to get involved with University Mental Health Day this year, there are a few ways that you can do so. The UMHD website has provided some helpful tips on how to get started:

  • Join the online movement – talk about student mental health online, use the #UniMentalHealthDay to craft your own campaign and to talk about your own wishes for the future improvement of student mental health.
  • Run virtual events – get creative and bring people together through events with speakers and storytelling. It could still be that virtual events are a better bet than physical events with the fluid Covid and restrictions situation
  • Become a fundraiser – you can help UMHD by fundraising. Encourage other students, your friends, and societies in university to take a walk on March 3rd , as part of University Mental Health Day Walking Challenge, taking photos and selfies of interesting things they see in the local area and share them as a collage as part of the fundraising campaign.
  • Lobby your university – encourage a senior leader within your university to share the steps they are taking to improve student mental health and wellbeing. Demand that students are listened to and that your institution is doing everything it can to support students.

What Is The University Mental Health Charter?

student mental health image

Student Minds created The University Mental Health Charter in partnership with leading higher education bodies, students and staff members from around the country. The charter provides the blueprint for a greater future where every person entering higher education has the perfect chance to thrive.

It was published in 2019 and provides a set of evidence-informed principles aimed at supporting UK universities to make mental health a priority throughout university life. It is only when we all come together that we can make a brand-new future and see a genuine cultural change that shifts perceptions of student mental health and promotes healthy practice of mental health awareness.

What To Do If You Are Suffering With Your Mental Health 

girl getting upset alone in her bedroom

There are a few things that you can do if you feel that you are struggling with your mental health. University Mental Health Day is all about empowering students to understand the pitfalls and to have an action plan and resources to help should they be suffering with poor mental health or spot the signs in another person. It can be daunting to feel alone with your thoughts, but with campaigns like this one it shows that you are not alone and that you can break the stigma associated with mental health discussion and with student mental health in particular.

Talk to someone – it is always difficult to try and put your feelings into words when you are struggling with your mental health. Talking is a great way to begin the journey into feeling more positive and getting the help you need. Talking about our problems is a way of putting all our negative thoughts and energy out of our bodies and minds, relieving what are often heavy burdens on our shoulders. Talk to someone you trust, whether that is a friend, colleague, or family member. You’ll find that those who love you can provide a sounding board and can find you help in whatever way they can.

Student Union – your SU is there as a support network and a community for all students within the university. There is often a misconception that the union is only there for social activities and the like, but it is also there as a place of support and guidance, with links to help should you need it.

Student services – there is professional help available in every university through student services. The team are trained in dealing with all kinds of problems and challenges that students face when living away and studying at university, including all matters student mental health. They will guide and support you through any issues you are facing, with student counsellors available to talk to if required.

Online support – Alternatively, or alongside the above support, you will find plenty of support and resources online to help with mental health challenges and conditions. We’ve mentioned a few already throughout this post but we’ve listed them and more below for ease:

Our work with Student Minds

people sat together enjoying studying

As we deal with students every single day, the mental health of students is important to us as a company. We work closely with the student mental health charity, Student Minds, and completely support University Mental Health Day as a way of promoting knowledge of mental health and how to get help if you are struggling. Student Minds provides great support for students in the UK, empowering students and the wider university community to understand mental health, to create change and offer support. University staff and students are trained to deliver student-led peer support interventions, whilst there are campaigns, resources, and workshops available.

As you can see in this guide, mental health issues are a real and growing concern within the student population and that of the wider university staff. It is important to understand the pressures and challenges faced in university, to understand the pointers to poor mental health and what to do should you need help with your own mental health problems. University Mental Health Day and Student Minds offer great support, so please check them out and get involved if you can.