Student Issues

Looking After Your Mental Health in College

College can be an amazing experience both academically as well as socially; learning new things, meeting new people and having the opportunity to try new things. However, college can also bring its own stresses. These stresses can turn into mental health problems if a student doesn’t have good coping skills or know where they can access support on-campus or off-campus.

We all have mental health. Good mental health includes when we feel good about ourselves, those around us and our ability to give back to society. However, it is a fact that 1 in 4 of us will suffer with mental health problems at some point during our lives. Some of the main issues reported by students which affects their mental health include anxiety, depression, substance abuse, financial reasons, relationship problems, not fitting in, stressful living conditions and coursework. It’s not hard to see how students will have mental health problems at some stage.

Third level students are increasingly more aware of the importance of talking about their problems and are accessing support to address their problems. Recently, college counselling services have reported an increase in the number of the students accessing mental health support and this is a trend that will continue to grow. For example, the University of Limerick reported that the number of students seeking counselling has doubled over the last 5 years.

As a result of the increase in students accessing services and not enough money invested into the mental health services on campus, some colleges have waiting lists beyond 2 weeks or don’t even have a counsellor full-time on campus. Some colleges are better than others with regards to the provision of mental health services available to help students overcome any issues that may arise during the academic year. However, counselling is not the only option available to help address a mental health problem. There are several other social supports available on campus as well as several personal development, coping skills and well-being workshops offered throughout the year.

Depending on your college there are a range of social supports and services which can help you as you progress through your course. These social supports may include;

• Student Union Services
• Student Counselling
• Student Health Service
• Chaplaincy
• Career Development
• Access Centre
• Disability Services

College supports are there to help you. If you are struggling with your mental health and have a diagnosed mental illness during your time in college there are certain accommodations available which can help you to cope. These are referred to as ‘Reasonable Accommodations’. These accommodations may include extra support or time in relation to lectures, assignments and examinations. Call into your access or disability office where they can inform you how to avail of these accommodations depending on your needs.

For a more detailed explanation of each service please click here.

Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help

When you are upset, worried or feeling down, it can help to talk about what you are going through. Talking is a sign of strength not a weakness. Having the courage to say you are not ok can be tough, but it is such relief once you say it and let someone else know what really is going on.

Talk to your family, a friend or someone you trust. It’s not right for everyone or every situation, but sometimes friends and families can be a really good source of support. Talking to someone about what’s troubling you can make a big difference to how you feel.

• Often in talking with someone you gain a different perspective that can help you look at things in a different way or find solutions.

• Have a cup of tea with someone who cares for you, or give them a call, and let them know you are not okay. You don’t have to appear to be strong or to try to struggle through things by yourself. They also can help you access professional supports like accompanying you to see your doctor or going to your first counselling session.

• By seeking help and support you learn new coping skills which prevent this mental health problem from getting worse. These skills empower you to build a strong foundation of good health and well-being and will stand to you not just in college but throughout your life.

If you are finding things difficult but you can’t find the courage to ask for help due to fear of what others may think, ask yourself these questions “What advice would you give your best friend if they were in the situation you are in?, Would you encourage them to keep quiet and suffer in silence or would you encourage them to seek support?”.

Generally, our fears hold us back from taking action immediately but when we really explore our fears there is no truth behind them. Seeking help empowers you to take control of the situation rather than feeling like the situation is overwhelming you. No one ever has said that they regretted seeking support however there are lots of people saying they regret not seeking support quicker … so which one are you going to be?

For more tips checkout our ‘How to Talk Guide’ click here.

Don’t struggle because a fear of what others may think of you,
They are not in your shoes, so focus on you and your needs.
Don’t look back in a few years regretting you didn’t seek support sooner!!.

Check out where you can find out what supports available to you both on-campus and off-campus.

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