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Wellbeing and support for students

By: Summer

Hi! I’m Summer, a Next Steps South West Student Ambassador and second year student at the University of Plymouth. I’m here to chat with you about mental health and wellbeing at university. I hope it’s really helpful for you!

I remember the night before I left my home for university. I was so excited and anxious about what it would be like. Would I fit in? Would I make friends? As soon as I arrived, though, I found that everyone was in the same boat as me. I quickly learnt that universities understand what it’s like for new students, and are really experienced and helpful. They also have lots of different support services in place that are so supportive and friendly.

Student support

Coping with these new challenges can definitely have an impact on your mental health, but I also found that the new independence I had gave me more control over my wellbeing as I could choose what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. The university has an excellent student advice centre and a Student Hub which can help with anything you may need advice on. This was really helpful during my first year when I had questions about my course modules!

Another amazing resource is something called Big White Wall. It gives you a space to get things off your chest, explore your feelings, get creative and learn how to manage your mental health and wellbeing – It’s really lovely!

Take time out

However busy I am with my studies, I’ve found it’s important for my health to take time out to relax, and give myself time to process everything. Stepping back and doing something you enjoy, whether that’s sitting in bed watching Netflix with your pet, going out for a long walk or listening to your favourite music. It can help you to recharge, and it is never time wasted.

I have found that keeping in touch with your friends and family, as well as your university “family” is also really helpful and is a great way to feel supported. Communication is really important at university as it is easy to bottle-up things. You are never alone in how you are feeling, and there is always someone who would love to listen.

Uncertain times

With the Coronavirus pandemic affecting so much of our normal life right now, everything feels so strange and uncertain. Being unable to go to school/work/uni, missing your friends, worrying about your studies and not being able to leave the house as often is very hard, and it’s easy for the situation to become overwhelming. It can make you feel anxious and scared, and perhaps even lonely at times, but it’s totally normal and okay to feel this way- it’s a really challenging time for everyone. However, there are lots of things you can do to make your days more positive and less stressful. 😊

Quick tips

Here are some of my quick tips for getting through the lockdown:

  • Running is really good for getting out all that energy. It can also help you to switch off, take in your surroundings and breathe some fresh air. I always sleep better after a run! You could download the NHS ‘Couch to 5K’ app.
  • If you don’t feel up to running, yoga or pilates can be a great alternative to heavy exercise, and the calming stretches and relaxing breathing exercises are brilliant for stress!
  • Try not to spend too much time on social media, as difficult as that may be. Try avoiding screens and doing something different, like baking, or reading in the sunshine.

I know things are difficult right now, but you are doing so incredibly well. You’ve got this!

Take care, stay safe and keep going.

Useful links

Young Minds Crisis Messenger provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK if you are experiencing a mental health crisis – just text YM to 85258

If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, email or chat online about any problem big or small -freephone 24/7 helpline: 0800 1111

If you’re under 25 you can talk to The Mix for free on the phone, by email or on their webchat. You can also use their phone counselling service, or get more information on support services you might need.

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