Wednesday, 20 September 2017

6 Ways to Prepare for University


Becky writes about preparing for University 
- Becky Reed

Results day has been and gone, and perhaps things are starting to become a bit more real. If you’re reading this, it is likely that in a few weeks you will move away from home and begin the next chapter of your life at University. Firstly, congratulations! It’s not easy gaining a place at University, and you have probably gone through a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get this far. So, well done!

I wanted to write this blog for those of you who are struggling with the prospect of moving to University. If your experience is anything like mine, everyone you speak to is excited about moving away from home, starting a new chapter, and preparing for the ‘best years of their life.’ But, for some of us, the thought of all this change can be overwhelming. And that’s ok.

For as long as I can remember anxiety has been part of my life. It, however, had been manageable until 6 months before moving to University. I suffered a traumatic event, and from that moment, things began to spiral out of control rapidly. I was diagnosed with PTSD, generalised anxiety, and depression. I took all the help available – talking to close friends and family, attending psychotherapy, and taking anti-depressants. Yet, I still struggled. I questioned if I could cope away from the support I desperately needed. I searched for advice from people who had moved to University with a mental illness. There is a lot of information of what to do if you suffer with your mental illness while at University, but less on what to do in preparation.  Now that I am going into my final year, and have learnt to thrive with my mental illness, I want to tell you some things that helped me.

Take a day trip to where you’re moving to. 
Whether you have or haven’t already visited, a visit may help answer some questions. You could find the local supermarket, check out bus routes, or find the local GP.

Get in contact with the Universities student support services. 
You will be able to gain support from mental health & disability advisors, counsellors, mentors etc. Contacting them before means you know where help is from day one. They may also be able to provide some extra information or advice before you make the move. This is also the place to ask about Disability Student Allowance (DSA). The DSA can provide funding for resources that may help your emotional wellbeing. 

Register with a GP. 
This is especially important if you are on medication. Even if you aren’t, it can relieve some anxiety, as you know where help is should you need it. 

Have a plan for when you experience a mental health day. 
Know what works for you and how you can implement it in your new environment. Personally, when I had a bad day I needed to get on my bike. So, I made sure I could take my bike with me, and knew how to store it. It can be easy to get swept away with University, especially during fresher’s week, but just remember what you need to do to stay well. 

Prepare to make your room your own. 
Moving into halls is great, but if you don’t make it your own it could just feel like you’re staying in someone else’s room for a year. Print off photos; buy some cushions– whatever will make it feel like yours. 

Consider the drinking culture of university. 
This was a massive contributing factor to my anxiety levels pre-moving. Due to the medication I was on, I was not allowed to drink. I feared people would think I was boring, and thought it would see me left out of many things. Since moving to University I have seen that people generally respect your attitude to drinking. I would not have believed that at the height of a MH crisis. It’s a good idea to have a plan for what to say when someone asks you if you’d like a drink. Thanks for reading! Be kind to yourself over the next few weeks. It’s natural to be nervous, but if you feel you are struggling, make sure you get the help you need, perhaps talk this through with someone you trust to come up with a plan that will work for you.


Most importantly, good luck! Have a brilliant time at University.



Hey, I’m Becky. I’m a final year student studying Sport and Social Sciences at the University of Bath. I have been living with generalised anxiety for a number of years, and have, more recently, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and episodes of severe depression. I wanted to write for Student Minds to show there’s light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how dark it seems. Thank you for reading - I hope it has helped you.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

LGBT+ Mental Health and Coming Out

¨I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else's whim or to someone else's ignorance.¨

-Bell Hooks


Questions about who we are and what we choose to hide from people is something intrinsically human and in many ways also connected to our physical and psychological wellbeing. Mental health and identity constructions have strong links, which those of us in the LGBTQ community who have experienced different health issues can confirm.

What is it that allows us to define ourselves through our sexuality? Is this a good thing that is absolutely necessary for the formation of our characters or completely insignificant for the lives we then decide to lead? While everyone should have the opportunity to decide these things for themselves, in a society that continues to breed and nurture LGBT+-related discriminatory practices, it is not always possible for us to do.

My research is about these particular experiences for young people, and why it is so important to stop these prejudices, promote openness and acceptance, and reach out to each other.

We know enough to be able to say that LGBT+ individuals, particularly young LGBT+ people, are at a higher risk of developing common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety and are almost three times as likely to have suicidal thoughts (Burton et al., 2013; Lea et al., 2014; Marshal et al 2011). Stress is a key factor for mental health and is caused and maintained by a range of factors, including prejudice and discrimination. In addition to this challenge and the alienation from the rest of society, LGBT+ youth also have to deal with general pressures such as leaving home, finding work or studying and integrating into new communities.

In attempt to avoid judgement and stigma, hiding can seem like an enticing option. But it often doesn’t have the desired protective effect. There is proof that our attempts to conceal our sexual identity can affect us mentally and physically (Quinn & Earnshaw, 2013). The act of revealing one's true identity can be a profound form of liberation from self-imposed stigma and allow people to become part of the LGBT+ community and receive social support - in effect, feel less isolated.

Writer and transgender rights activist Janet Mock has said, “Our stories are ours. They belong to us and we should be able to tell them - not at the convenience of others but when we are ready”. So how important is the role of concealment among LGBT+ youth? And how will this affect their mental health and wellbeing? I strongly believe in the importance of delving into some of these questions and proving that elements like storytelling, social support and freedom of expression can play a crucial role in shedding light on our sexual and gender identities and accepting ourselves for who we are or want to be.

There is always the risk of receiving a hurtful comment from someone closed-minded or ignorant. Remember you haven’t done anything wrong - the problem lies with them. Once we can embrace our “otherness” and our differences, we can leave behind that sense of always looking at ourselves through the eyes of others.

It is important to remember that while LGBT+ people are at a higher risk of developing mental health difficulties, the majority of LGBT+ people are thriving. So why is it that some people are more affected than others? This is something that we don’t have all the answers to. That's why my research focuses on looking at the different ways people cope with challenges like stigma, discrimination and mental health difficulties. I hope that research projects like my own become more common and can slowly begin to change our view of LGBT+ people and mental health, making sure that those who do suffer from mental health difficulties don’t become isolated and can be empowered to reach out.

...


Georgina is a PhD Student, conducting research to understand and intervene with mental health problems in LGBT+ students. This research is being conducted by the LGBT Mental Health Research Group at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's College London. You can find out more about the research here .
Participants are being recruited to take part in a study on stigma and mental health in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) community. They are looking for UK University and College students who identify as a sexual or gender minority to take part in their research. You can be a part of their study by filling in this survey.


If you'd like further support or information, you can find details for a range of services and organisations listed on our LGBTQ+ Resource Page.
The LGBT Foundation have some great tips for coming out, follow the link to find out more here.
“Ultimately there is no right or wrong way to come out. The important thing is to do it the way you want to and the way you feel comfortable.” - The LGBT Foundation



Burton, C. M., Marshal, M. P., & Friedman, M. S. (2013). Sexual Minority-Related Victimization as a Mediator of Mental Health Disparities in Sexual Minority Youth : A Longitudinal Analysis, 394–402. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-012-9901-5

Lea, T., Wit, J. De, & Reynolds, R. (2014). Minority Stress in Lesbian , Gay , and Bisexual Young Adults in Australia : Associations with Psychological Distress , Suicidality , and Substance Use. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-014-0266-6

Marshal, M. P., Dietz, L. J., Friedman, M. S., Stall, R., Smith, H. A., McGinley, J., … Brent, D. A. (2011). Suicidality and depression disparities between sexual minority and heterosexual youth: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Adolescent Health, 49(2), 115–123. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.02.005

Quinn, D. M. & Earnshaw, V. A.(2013) . Concealable Stigmatized Identities and
Psychological WellBeing. Soc Personal Psychol Compass. 7(1): 40–51. doi:10.1111/spc3.12005

Friday, 15 September 2017

10 things you need to know about Mental Health at University

Jodie writes about the 10 things it is helpful to know about mental health at university. 
- Jodie Goodacre

University is so often talked about as being the best years of your life, a place where you will make life long friends, get involved with many societies and gain independence.  However, this is a large leap in a person’s life and it can bring with it a number of difficulties. Students are warned about the stress that studying at university will bring with it, as well as potential mental health issues that may arise. However, what is not often discussed is the level at which mental health problems exist, with the number of students dropping out from university courses due to mental illness increasing significantly in recent years. Perhaps unsurprisingly, mental health difficulties are more prevalent in university students than the general population with 75% of all mental health difficulties developing in individuals by their mid-20s (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2010). It is recognised that a student’s mental wellbeing will directly impact on their performance academically, the friendships created and their overall experience at the university. It is not simply in the best interests of the university to invest time and money into the wellbeing of their students (and staff), but in fact it is their duty to do so. 

For those considering going to university, for those with friends or family going to university, for those in the education system and for all, these are the ten things that you need to know about mental health at university. 

1.  Academic pressure can fuel mental health difficulties
Whilst the majority of students will have joined university straight after completing their A-levels or similar qualifications and work pressure is nothing new to them, the sheer intensity can come as quite a shock. University is likely to be the first time that a student is asked to learn independently, to manage their own time and to think outside of the box, creating their own ideas far beyond a textbook. It is important that whilst at university you make time for self care and to know that your results do not define you or your worth.

2. Financial strain will become a larger strain than you first imagine 
Another huge pressure is the financial implications of going to university. Financial stress can drive mental health difficulties; expensive tuition fees alongside uncertain job prospects mean students are becoming ever more stressed about whether the costs incurred will pay off. If you would like some more advice on how to manage your finances you will be able to find some information here.

3. A routine is essential to your mental health at university
At university, the ball is well and truly in your corner. You choose to attend lectures, if you skip them there will unlikely be any follow up unless you are regularly skipping. You choose what time to wake up and go to bed. For many, self-management can be incredibly difficult, there are different social events on different evenings, there are deadlines at different stages, it won’t always be easy, or possible to stick to a regular routine and losing this structure can have a really big impact on productivity and wellbeing. Start the year in the way you wish to continue, use bullet journals, diaries, calendars – whatever it is you find helpful to your own organisation

4. Social media is a blessing and a curse 
I am sure this is nothing new to many students, however, at university social media seems to become ‘more central’ to the experience: friend requests left, right and centre, tagged photos, house party invites. Social media in general is known to have both positive and detrimental impacts to a person’s mental health, with a whole network allowing us to judge ourselves and our lives against others. The constant and sometimes relentless stream of status updates and photos of people appearing to have a good time can turn social media into an area of competition instead of relaxation. It is important to reclaim social media and make it a more honest place – you can share your best night in here.

5. Living in halls is not as scary as it first seems 
The thought of living with complete strangers can be scary at first, but there are many thousands of others taking this step as they start university. It is important to try and make your room as homely as possible, put up your favourite photos, get nice bedding and make it your own. Why not buy some tea and biscuits for that first social meeting with your new housemates? It is also ok if you do not get on with your house mates, there are plenty of other ways to meet people at university. It will be useful to prepare yourself before you move in order to make the transition smooth.

6. Living at home can be beneficial and isolating at the same time
When you picture a university student, you may imagine students living away from home but what about the 27% of students living at home (Guardian, 2017). You will have to try harder to fit in with close groups that live together. This is especially noticeable in first year following ‘freshers’, which is definitely not made for students living at home and you may notice most of your friends are from your course rather than across university courses – be sure not to shoot off straight after lectures, stay around and socialise if you are able to as it can feel very isolating at times.

7. Making friends 
Being at university is not purely about studying, it is a whole experience, and socialising is a very important aspect. Students are put in the same position, thrown into a new environment, often not knowing anyone else – you become a very small fish, in a very large pond. It can be very overwhelming and very anxiety provoking, but a great chance to meet likeminded people. The first person you meet might not be your best friend for life and that is okay. If you are lucky, you might develop strong friendships that will last a lifetime. People may find this time in their lives difficult; know what to look out for in Student Minds Look After Your Mate guide.

8. Fresher’s week may damage more than your liver
Fresher’s week, the start of the university year. It is a great way to meet people, make friends, relax and slowly ease into university life. Whilst this period is usually seen as a student essential, the sheer amount of clubbing, events and most notable… alcohol can become too frequent and prove overwhelming for some. Please, look after yourself and watch your alcohol consumption. Also if you do not drink that is also ok and there will be other students who are exactly the same as you can read here.

9. Societies give you a much needed break from university work  
There are lots of ways to embed yourself into your university community and joining societies is one of them. Always wanted to try out something new? Been part of a club at home for years? Attend your societies fair or check out your student union website to find out what societies are available at your university. This can be a great way to meet likeminded people and have fun outside of the academic pressures of university.

10. Services are there for you, make use of them 
At university there are a variety of services to support students such as a doctor’s surgery and a wellbeing centre. When at school you will have had a large amount of contact with the staff, however at university you will have minimal contact hours with staff and thus sadly much less likely for them to pick up on symptoms of poor mental wellbeing, unless you bring it to their attention. It is very important that you speak to your tutors and also the wellbeing centre when you need that additional support. Find out what further support is available to you here.



Hey! I am Jodie, a final year Geography student from Hertfordshire living with Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar Type 2 and Anxiety. I am a passionate Mental Health Campaigner, having worked across the UK delivering speeches in schools, speaking with ministers at the department of health, working with the media all with the aim of raising awareness and reducing stigma.  I am thrilled to be working with Student Minds to continue this journey in highlighting the difficulties that can come with education whilst showing that life can continue with a mental illness, you can achieve greatness just like someone without a mental health condition.







Thursday, 14 September 2017

I got involved with Student Minds because...

Our Steering Group & Volunteers share why they got involved with Student Minds. 
- Student Minds Steering Group 

"I supported a friend experiencing eating difficulties at university and I didn't know where to go or who to talk to about how to support a friend. I was put in touch with Student Minds and loved the message they were sending out and how nurturing the charity is."

"I did not want students to feel as alone and unable to speak out like I did when I was going through depression and anxiety at university, so I set up a Student Minds campaigns group. This was an essential part of my journey with my own mental health and allowed me to create a community on my campus where it was okay to talk about mental health."

"What I appreciated the most when I have been going through difficult times is someone who would just listen and encourage, being there but not trying to ‘solve’ you - I saw this was Student Minds approach and it really appealed to me so I got involved."

"I wanted to give others the opportunity to voice how they were feeling in an accepting environment. When I found things difficult my friends and school didn't really know what to do - I didn't want others to experience this so I became a volunteer for Student Minds."

"The prevalence of mental health difficulties in the LGBTQ+ community is something that needs more attention, I wanted to support a charity that is making a positive change."

"I got involved on a whim, not thinking I could make a difference, but I flourished and the most rewarding things has been being able to use my experience of mental health difficulties to help others and work out what recovery is for me."

"Friends and family of mine have experienced eating difficulties, and I felt both them and myself at times lacking support and guidance. I saw how a friend of mine left university due to her mental health difficulties and thought that any extra support I could be involved in creating was very worthwhile."

"I wanted to do more to help people, I found myself a natural source of support for my peer group and I wanted to do this in a safe way."

"In my third year, after a difficult time with my mental health at university previously I began to feel a part of something bigger, part of the student community and part of Student Minds. I wanted to be able to make a difference and help others get through what I had."


Steering Group Weekend 2017

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Hitting “rock-bottom” and how to get back up

Michael shares his story of experiencing mental health issues.
- Michael Rigby


I guess my mental health concern came throughout childhood. I was just another one of those kids who would be treated differently due to being overweight. My first problem came when I was in my last year of secondary school. The stress of my exams was just one factor that caused a lot of stress in my life at the time. My focus was also on losing as much weight as I could and I achieved that. However, I ended up making myself very ill. The real issue that really effected me during this time was that I completely messed up my exams. The exams that were supposed to open doors to the future. My stress and anxiety levels had created me to be very weak and I just couldn't concentrate.

Two years of college, enrolled onto a course that wasn't my first choice. I wasn't satisfied with the position that I had got myself in. However, I felt my choices were limited. I felt that I had failed myself and that I was still being punished. I use to sit there in the classroom thinking about the time I messed up my exams and what caused me to lead to that extreme. I would often interact with others on the same course and I did make friends. However, this wasn't what I worked hard for. I felt my potential was never shown to others. My mind was always in a different place and people wouldn't even recognise that I was suffering, “suffering in silence”. I completed the two-years with ease and achieved top grades. However, that was still not good enough for me.

The Two-Years Of Quitting- The worst two years of my life came within my time at college. My mind would always take over me in any situation. Whether it was learning to drive, socialising with friends or whilst at the gym. I just wasn't interested in anything I loved to do. I quit driving because I couldn't concentrate and I felt it was unsafe to keep learning. My friends would ask me to do something and I would make up an excuse. The gym, this is a place where I always enjoyed going, I quit my membership. These were just three things I quit during that time. I ended up staying in my bedroom staring at the ceiling whilst getting stressed about anything. I still didn't want to talk about it.

It's Time To Talk- My time to talk came in the last few months of college. My parents were worried about me so they had contacted my college tutor for help. I was given an appointment to see the college counsellor, I told her everything. I went from feeling I had a weight on my back too feeling calm for a while. I realised it was good to talk about things. She understood everything and put her time into helping me. In some ways counselling did help me. However, I also found that I was strong enough to get back up from, “hitting rock-bottom”. Sometimes, I would still get confused because I'm very good at helping others rather than myself. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that. My first step to getting back up, was signing up for the gym again. And I've been attending ever since. My advice on the way to get back up is to take a “step by step” regime. Gradually restart your passions that you always loved or start new interests. It's your choice and don't let anybody stop you.

I'm currently a University student in London. Over the past year I took some time out for a gap-year and a break from education. I feel it's the best decision I've ever made. It's vital that everyone, “takes a moment”. Give yourself time to rebuild and create a solid mind for the future. Take my advise, KEEP ON GOING! DON’T GIVE UP!

Hi, I'm Michael Rigby and I study Sports Business and Broadcasting at UCFB Wembley. I have experienced a mental illness such as; depression/social anxiety since the age of 14.



Tuesday, 5 September 2017

How to: Navigate Uni with a Dissociative Disorder


Recognising mental illness at university can be hard. Especially, as with dissociative disorders, they aren't talked about very often.
-Elise Jackson

University is undoubtedly amazing. However, getting through the first year can be a challenge for many. Moving away from everything that is familiar, meeting a diverse array of completely new people and having to adapt to an entirely new way of learning is not easy, to say the least. For me, the summer before I started university was the hardest of my life. I lost a lot. My mum had moved half way across the country, my family sold the only home I’d ever known and my friends, destined for universities up and down the country, had to say goodbye. This summer of loss was made only more difficult, by a previous, truly world shattering, loss that occurred during my A-level exams. Four days before my 18th birthday, I lost my big brother to SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy). It was one week before his 22nd birthday. We came to terms with it somehow but grieving whilst simultaneously moving house, sitting A-level exams and leaving home for the first time to embark on my new student life, unsurprisingly, proved difficult. 

I struggled. Within two days of being at university, my parents had phoned the university to help me get some support. I was in the counseling service before the end of Freshers. The counselors were brilliant, very understanding, informed, and acted immediately. Thankfully, when I had settled in, things got better fast. My entire block of fellow first years was super sociable. We spent a lot of time living as one huge flat. I was also lucky enough to have one of my best friends from home living two blocks down. Between my block and his flat, housing for second year was sorted by mid-November. Things were going well so I stopped going to counseling. 
But.
 The thing about mental health is that it can fluctuate, it's somewhat unpredictable. Around February time I had to return my mum's new home in Norfolk for a few days because I felt... wrong. At the time, I thought it was exhaustion and decided a few days at home would solve it. And it did, for a little while. These short periods of what I can only describe as fogginess came to every couple of months but always passed within a week or so. Exams came and went and summer returned. 

During summer, I’m often between places. I usually choose to spend most of the holiday period in Sussex as it is where the majority of my friends are. It also means I can be close to my dad’s family. Reflecting on that first summer of University, I think I must have felt it coming to some extent but not really acknowledged it. I went to stay in Norfolk and something hit me like a tidal wave. This time, I was forced to realize that something was going on in my brain that couldn’t be simply solved by a week at home. I lived for a month feeling like I wasn’t in my own body. I felt I was watching life through a hazy screen. Eventually, I found out that I was suffering from DPD (depersonalization disorder), triggered by depression. 

When I returned to uni, I found out about Student Minds and began volunteering for them. I decided I needed to take control of my own brain. My mental health still fluctuates a lot. I’ll often be feeling fine and then become unwell for a few months. Learning how to deal with this has been the biggest challenge of my second year. Dissociative disorders are not often talked about nor are they well researched. During a relapse, I feel drunk all the time or like a robot who can’t feel anything under the surface. Knowing that there are ways to reconnect with your body is the most important thing. I practice mindfulness, meditation and yoga to stay connected to my body and remain grounded. I intend to return to counseling. But as always, more needs to be done, but I remain optimistic that it will.



Hello! I'm Elise. I'm currently in my final year studying English Language and Literature at the University of Nottingham. My writings for Student Minds will range from pieces about depression and DPD to coping with loss, bereavement and change during your studies - all the while remaining mindful and getting the most out of university life. Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Mental Health Over Summer: Rachael's Experience

Rachael shares her experience of how best to work and rest during the summer.
- Rachael Johnston


What do you do to help with your mental health over the summer?

I try and keep myself as occupied as possible.  To keep focused, it’s really important for me to plan ahead and have things set in my diary to look forward to. My previous job as a teaching assistant meant I had the whole summer off; however, I’m now a support worker supporting children with additional needs, which makes this summer a bit different.

What do you like to do during the summer?

I have my birthday over the summer, so there is usually the build up to that. I took two weeks annual leave to be able to have some time with my family and friends to celebrate.  I have had a short weekend away with my mum, which was nice, and I braved a massage. I’ve never had a massage, so I’ve decided I want to try and keep up to see if it helps me unwind a bit more.

What do you find hardest in the summer?

When we do get the sun, it usually means shorts and strappy tops. Currently my weight isn’t great, so I’m very body conscious. I also have scarring from self-harm. This summer, I’ve been a bit braver, and on really hot days I’ve just thought ‘sod it’! Then there are the big events and get-togethers! Usually it’s a time when everyone seems to go out and there is never a reasonable excuse not to go, so I try and tell myself to give it a go. If things do get too overwhelming, I can always go, so I find myself driving to places and ditching the alcohol in favour of a quick exit if I need it.

What differences have you found in your mental health over the summer compared to when you’re at university?

I’ve never been a fan of the summer holiday, even when I was in school.  I like being busy and having something to do. So I do notice that when my brain isn’t occupied, I start to feel low. However, when I’ve not been in university for a while, I start to become anxious about going back.  I check and recheck my personalised plan so I can reassure myself that any new tutors know what additional steps need to be taken. I suppose that’s the thing with mental health: no matter what I do, that little voice never seems to be satisfied.

Do you have any advice for other students who struggle with their mental health in the summer?

I’d say plan ahead. If you’re struggling, don’t bottle it in.  If you’re not up to do something which you have planned, be honest and don’t just cancel, my friends have either been able to talk me round into going out for a little while, or they’re happy to find a good film and stay in.
If you have appointments through the summer, stick to them, get to them even if you’d rather be sitting in. Sometimes it helps your therapists to see you in person when you’re really down, to get a fuller understanding of your situation.
To avoid staying stuck in a cycle of wearing the same clothes for days, I also try and set an alarm to have a fixed time when I have to have a shower and change.


Are you interested in getting involved in the “Mental Health over the Summer” blog series? Please do not hesitate to email us at blog@studentminds.org.



Hi, I’m Rachael. I’ve been blogging on and off for a few years now around my experience of living with Anorexia and Borderline Personality Disorder. Although I’m meant to be on a break from university this summer I requested an extension for my last assignment due to a dip in my mental health, so I’ve been able to keep myself occupied with this summer with uni work and my job as a support worker.
https://thejourneyback2life.wordpress.com/2017/07/14/to-the-bone/

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Mental Health Over the Summer: Tazmin's Experience

Tazmin joins the 'Mental Health Over the Summer' blogging series and shares her own story about her summer experiences with mental health difficulties.

- Tazmin


Being at university caused me a whirlwind of emotions. I had good days and I had terrible days due to my mental illness but I do not regret a thing. University is a wonderful, character building and self-exploratory journey; I am so proud of everything I achieved whilst being there and I wish everyone to have this same special bond with themselves.

What do you do to help with your mental health over the summer?

The summer holidays can sometimes seem like a long period of time and some people can find going home a little bit difficult but it is important we make the most of it! The main thing that I believe helps with your mental health is keeping busy and the easiest way to do that is to work. Whether that be a part-time job as a waitress or work experience in something you’re interested in, using your time productively, making money and gaining experience can make you feel as though you’re achieving something and not just sitting around with your thoughts. I also use the time to practice mindfulness, meditation and the time that I have with myself as a way to build a stronger, more grounded relationship within. It wasn’t always this easy but it is so important that when I notice I’m feeling down, I try hard to do what I can to feel better.

What do you like to do during the summer?
            
Summer is the time for us to have fun, so I just do what I enjoy! Going out, making plans, seeing friends or catching up with my sisters. Going to a new city; or a different country and even long walks in the sunshine (if we’re lucky enough to get a little sun). I just ensure I remain around people who keep me happy and positive!

What do you find hardest in the summer?

Going from being incredibly busy with social gatherings, meeting university deadlines, investigating a new city and seeing new things almost every day, to then going back home is what brings me down. I take a while to adapt to change and settle into new situations and by the time I’ve got used to university life, it is time to go home again.  In some ways, it made me feel as though I did not belong anywhere – but I had to realise this was not the case as all university students are in the same boat.

What differences have you found in your mental health over the summer compared to when you’re at university?

In some ways my mental health improved. I feel as though I have the freedom to go and do as I please as I am not constrained by university deadlines. In addition, sometimes being around the comfort and security of your old friends and family can benefit you too. However I missed the independence that university had to offer in terms of having my own space (which I truly believe is crucial in looking after your mental health). Being back at home can make you feel constrained as you may be living by someone else’s rules, but it’s important that you’re open and honest with your family and friends about anxieties you may have to ensure you feel more comfortable.

Do you have any advice for other students who struggle with their mental health in the summer?

Don’t allow the summer to be a time where you let your thoughts distract you and take over. Go and have fun! This is your free time and yes, there’s a lot of it but there’s a lot you can do with it. Be productive! Last summer I got work experience on a few independent film sets in Birmingham to contribute to my Media CV and Portfolio. I blogged, a lot. I worked and always tried to make plans with my friends. This is your time to heal.


Are you interested in getting involved in the “Mental Health over the Summer” blog series? Please do not hesitate to email us at blog@studentminds.org.



Hey guys, it’s Tazmin. My journey suffering with severe depression and anxiety has been a difficult one; but I would not be who I am today had I not accepted my illness and worked to get better. I have just graduated from Sheffield Hallam University with a First in Film and Media Production, something which I thought I'd never do.  I’ve had my blog Awareness for two years and it has been so rewarding for me; I want my writing to help, inspire and touch people. I now wish to support and encourage anyone who is suffering through university with this blog. Happy reading! (awarenessbytazmin.wordpress.com)

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Mental Health Over the Summer: Emily's Experience

Emily joins the 'Mental Health Over the Summer' blogging series and shares her own story about her summer experiences with mental health difficulties.


- Emily


What do you do to help with your mental health over the summer?

To help with my mental health over the summer, I make sure that I always spend some time each day doing something that I am passionate about, which is writing. The summer is good for this because I can take a notebook into the garden,  and sit in the sun and do some writing  . This summer however, for me, has been really different. Earlier this year, I gained a qualification in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and I’ve had the chance to teach both in Italy and in the UK. These experiences have been really positive for my mental health.

What do you like to do during the summer?

During the summer, I like to spend lots of time writing. The summer is usually the time that I increase my Karate training too. This summer, I have enjoyed teaching English in Italy and in the UK, which has been a really enjoyable and confidence boosting experience for me.

What do you find hardest in the summer?

I find the summer hard because I have too much time to think about and dwell on things. It is also hard because all of my friends live in different areas of the country and it’s difficult to see them very regularly, which. often leads to me feeling lonely.

What differences have you found in your mental health over the summer, compared to when you’re at university?

Before this summer, I have found my mental health to take a dip during the summer holidays because I’m generally on my own and have too much time to think and to worry about everything. When I’m at University, I’m always busy with work and therefore I have less time to worry about things and more distractions. I also have lots of friends at University so it’s a lot easier to see people while I am there, compared to when I am at home during the summer.

Do you have any advice for other students who struggle with their mental health in the summer?

For students who struggle with their mental health during the summer, I would recommend using the time to focus on hobbies or even to start something new, for example, volunteering or an online course or learning a language . It is also good to keep in touch with University friends via social media or arrange to meet up.


Are you interested in getting involved in the “Mental Health over the Summer” blog series? Please do not hesitate to email us at blog@studentminds.org.



My name is Emily (Em); I am currently studying Modern Languages, Translation & Interpreting at Swansea University. I wanted to write for Student Minds because I have experienced depression and anxiety, and I support friends who have also experienced mental health difficulties. I am also a passionate writer and writing has been important in my mental health experiences. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Mental Health Over the Summer: Sophie’s Experience

Sophie kicks off the ‘Mental Health Over the Summer’ blog series by sharing her story about her summer experiences with a mental health issue.

-Sophie Edwards

Hey, I’m Sophie and I am a sub-editor of the Student Minds Blog. I’ve been a blogger for four years now and have also recently started my own YouTube channel where I share my experiences of mental health, university and life in general! I usually share my mental health story when I am at university and (understandably) extremely stressed. However, I rarely talk about my mental health during the summer, as this should be a time when I relax. However, mental health issues don’t rest, even when you’re meant to. This is why this blog series is so important: by raising more awareness, we can help students who struggle during the summer.

What do you do to help with your mental health over the summer?

Whenever I am having a particularly down day, I try to give myself something to do. I find it hard during the summer because I have gone from having something to do 24/7 at university to doing nothing, and it leaves me feeling worthless. To keep my mind active, I like to blog and make YouTube videos; I also like to do some painting, or to see loved ones. Spending time on creativity keeps my mind active and stops me from overthinking and worsening my mental health.

What do you like to do during the summer?

During the summer, I try my best to see my friends, even though we are all busy working or on holiday. I like to spend days with my boyfriend by either going on days out in London, or by simply chilling in bed with Netflix. Simple things like this make me feel truly happy and help me wind down after a stressful year at university.

Do you have any advice for other students who struggle with their mental health during the summer?

My main piece of advice is to keep your mind and body active. Last summer when I was told I had social anxiety and depression, I got into exercise. It balanced the chemicals in my brain and made me feel a lot healthier mentally and physically. Keeping your mind active is also so important. Of course, you need to rest after a long and stressful year at university. However, a complete wind-down can lead to an extreme feeling of emptiness, if you struggle with such thoughts to begin with. This also makes it harder to get back into university once summer is over. Start a blog, make YouTube videos, find a new hobby, write for Student Minds! Doing little things like this can help you wind down without leading you to completely switch off and go numb.

What do you find hardest in the summer?

I struggle to find the motivation to start the day. When I have no job or any responsibilities, I technically have no reason to get out of bed unless I have something planned. I find myself spending full days in bed, forgetting to eat a proper meal or drink enough throughout the day. I don’t bother to shower and I just spend the whole day either on my laptop or my phone. Sometimes we need days like this, but I know that truthfully, I feel even worse after.

What differences have you found in your mental health over the summer compared to when you’re at university?

I find that I ‘accept’ my mental health issues when I’m at university because it is usually down to the workload and stress. However, when it’s summer, I struggle to come to terms with my mental health issues as I feel I shouldn’t be struggling. But we all know that mental health issue don’t take summer holidays, which is why this series is so important. We need to raise awareness about students’ mental health and the support they can get over the summer if it is needed.

Are you interested in getting involved in the “Mental Health over the Summer” blog series? Please do not hesitate to email us at blog@studentminds.org.


Hi, I’m Sophie and I’m a student at the University of Greenwich studying Advertising and Marketing Communications. I am going into my 3rd year of university in September and I have struggled with my mental health up until this point. In the Summer of 2016, at the end of my 1st year of university I was diagnosed with social anxiety and depression. It was only when I discovered Student Minds that I felt less alone and knew I wasn’t the only student struggling. I hope by working with Student Minds I can support other students experiencing the same struggles as me and raise awareness about the help that is out there!