#FresherPressure: Starting university with an existing mental health difficulty
We took to social media to see how students manage starting university with a pre-existing mental health difficulty.
Starting university is a scary experience for anyone; if you add mental health difficulties into the mix, the whole process can feel quite daunting. To be able to give you advice that has genuinely helped other people cope with this potentially challenging combination, we asked students for their tips on how they managed…
Prepare before you go
There’s a lot you can actually do to help yourself before you even get to university for the first time, from gathering information to letting people know what you’ve been through.
Once you arrive at university, it can be difficult to tell people about the challenges you’ve faced but if you can find a few people to trust, it can make your experience starting university a lot easier. As well as informing more formal services, having friends who are aware will help you to feel more supported.
Know your worth
Although stigma around mental health difficulties has greatly reduced with the increase in awareness and openness in society, it can still be hard to feel confident in who you are when you are also facing these struggles. Remind yourself that your experiences are valid and you are just as rightfully at university as everyone else.
If you feel confident enough to proactively reach out for help, it can make your time at university a lot easier and more enjoyable. Make use of the services available to you – from practical allowances to being able to talk to someone face-to-face.
Accept the possibility of challenges
It’s completely normal to find the transition to university difficult, no matter whether you have faced mental health difficulties before or not. Keep it in perspective; some of the things you’re struggling with may be very common amongst all your peers, such as adjusting to living independently and a harder academic level, but be aware when these challenges become prolonged and start to impact negatively on other areas of your life.
Be kind to yourself
While taking all the above (seemingly huge) steps, it can be all too easy to forget the simple things that can be done to prevent problems from escalating. Remember to dedicate time to looking after yourself in a more general day-to-day way.
Hopefully this has eased your #FresherPressure surrounding starting university with a mental health difficulty, look at the support section of our website for more resources.
Alys has produced content as the Communications Intern at Student Minds, passionate to share student voices in creative and engaging ways. She is going into her second year studying Sociology and sporadically writes about mental health over at www.alysjournals.com.