It’s September again and that means changes are coming up for many of us – especially if you’re off to university! Changes in stepping up your education or moving away from home for the first time can be really exciting. It’s an opportunity to gain new skills, make new friends and experience new things. With new changes come new responsibilities. For many of us, going to university can be the first time we’re facing the big wide world on our own. It’s time to be in charge of our own finances, our careers and our time. These pressures can make the big step into university life very overwhelming. For some people this can lead to thoughts of suicide.
Break the silence around suicide. Opening up about our feelings can feel really scary – but it’s important. If you are struggling there is help available, and it’s essential to know how to look after yourself if things get tough at university:
Keep in touch – Stay connected with your new friends, friends from home and your family. It’s really important to speak to those around us if we’re going through a big change or finding things hard, so don’t be afraid to talk.
Keep active – Your body and mind are connected. Looking after yourself and getting a bit of exercise keeps the endorphins flowing and your mood elevated.
Don’t be hard on yourself – University is supposed to be challenging, so it’s useful to set realistic goals for yourself and recognise the accomplishments you’ve made so far. Don’t beat yourself up over a low grade or a messy night out. The important thing about university is that you get the most out of your time there – educationally and financially, but most of all emotionally. Be your main priority and make sure you’re looking after you.
Don’t shut down – Withdrawing into yourself when you’re struggling can make things feel worse. It’s really important to let people around you know when you need a bit of support, even if being alone feels like all you want right now.
Make use of your time – If feeling under pressure at university is making you feel overwhelmed make sure you plan your time wisely. Start planning your essays or exam preparation early so things don’t get on top of you. Most importantly, make time for yourself to recharge, whether that’s going for a walk, going clubbing or going to sleep. What helps to keep you going? Make sure you factor it into your time.
Make use of support – Think: what support is available at your university? Student Support services should exist in every student union, and often within halls of residence. Find out what is available through your university website or pop into your student union to ask for advice. You may be able to get counselling on your campus, visit your GP or get extra support from your teaching staff regarding your course.
If you find that you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide, or you’re worried about someone else who might be, you can contact HOPELINE247 on 0800 068 41 41 to speak confidentially to a trained advisor who can support you to stay safe and navigate through the difficulties you’re experiencing.
Youth Access is a database of counselling and support services for young people and students.
Student Minds (The Student Mental Health Charity) offer advice and information about mental health while you’re at university.
The Student Room offer advice, support and information about going to university.
The National Union of Students is a UK-wide organisation that is run by and for students aged 16 upwards. They offer advice and information.