Kalie Burton, Lifestyle Editor.
World Mental Health Day took place on the 10th of October this year and many people took a moment to publicly share their feelings and thoughts to taking further steps towards removing the stigma surrounding the conversation around mental health. In university especially, mental health problems such as anxiety and depression are prevalent, with studies showing that an alarming 1 in 4 students seek help, and an even higher percentage are suffering in silence. Sadly, many students do not feel comfortable opening up to friends and family in how they are struggling, let alone seeking help professionally. If you find yourself among those struggling with mental health, there are a few things you can do to start on the path to recovery. However, above all, remember that you are not alone and no matter how low you may feel there are always steps you can take and people who want to help you.
Queen’s offers several services for students suffering from mental health, one of those being their Student Wellbeing Service, which encompasses everything from counselling to self-help resources and a 24-hour telephone support. Counselling is one of the best first steps towards stronger mental health, and the counselling service Queen’s offers is free and confidential for students and aims to work towards resolving problems in a positive way through providing a space to clarify your issues, explore options, develop strategies for coping and increase your self-awareness. Counselling is for everyone no matter how severe your issue may be, if you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, bereavement, or even settling into student life or family/relationship issues, counselling is extremely beneficial. Mental health always validates a visit to a counsellor or your GP, they will not take you less seriously because your symptoms fall more to the psychological over the physical. There is absolutely no shame about seeking help!(http://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/sgc/wellbeing/TheCounsellingService/) (https://www.inspirewellbeing.org/students/)
Taking steps to a stronger mental health on your own is equally as important as seeking external help, often if you recognise when you’re beginning to feel low you can put forth preventative measures to feel better. Simple things such as making time for self-care, whether that be spending a few hours having coffee with a friend or going on a walk, self-care encompasses anything that makes you feel more like yourself and prioritises your wellbeing. Helpguide.org offers countless forums on mental health, with topics ranging from managing stress to dealing with a breakup, reading articles written by people who have felt the same way you are and have come through it can be immensely beneficial to promoting your wellbeing. (https://www.helpguide.org.)
As far as anxiety and mental health stress from uni go, developing a plan and managing how you spend your time is one of the fundamental ways to keeping on top of coursework. Knowing what assignments are due when and how much time you need to spend on them makes keeping your stress under control doable. Find a system that works for you and stick to it. If you find that you’re falling behind or that your anxiety is affecting your ability to do well at uni, don’t be afraid to let your lecturer know or apply for an extension. Queen’s wants you to succeed, and it’s better to make the relevant faculty aware of personal issues instead of trying to weather it out alone. It’s okay not to be okay sometimes; recognise when you’re feeling poorly and what you can do to feel better. Make your wellbeing a priority, and reach out to friends, family, and professionals when you’re feeling down, and remember there’s always a road to recovery no matter how you’re feeling.