The past year has been tough for students. And whilst this academic year may feel a little different, ok completely different, your university is still there to support you.

University Mental Health Day is here to bring everyone together to make mental health a university-wide priority. Although there isn’t a one size fits all for fixing mental health, here are our top tips on looking after your mental health as a university student:

Decorate your space:
Student houses can often feel like a space in limbo. But with many of us spending more time at home than normal, it’s important to make your space a happy one. Although you won’t be able to paint the walls or change the furniture, there are many things you can do to make your student house feel more like a home.

We love:
* Using removable picture hanging strips to spruce up spaces with some artwork.
* Creating a cosy atmosphere with lighting (scatter those fairy lights!)
* Using rugs, blankets and cushions to create a space you can hide out in.
* Searching local charity shops to keep it budget friendly.

If you need some inspiration, head over to Pinterest which can pretty much guarantee this if needed.

Invest in plants:
With lockdown restrictions across the UK, getting outside more isn’t always an option. So why not bring the outdoors in by investing in some indoor plants. Surrounding yourself with plants can boost your mental health as it helps to keep the air around you fresh and clean.

For the non-green fingered among us, don’t worry! There are a myriad of death-defying plants, who will only need watering once in a blue moon (ok slightly more often than that, but every 2 weeks tops) The best bit of all is that they can be easily transported for out-of-term trips back to home.

Our favourites include:
* Snake Plant (or Sansevieria if you want to get technical)
* ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
* Devils Ivy (Epipremnum aureum)

Get Involved:
Student life is unpredictable right now and like most things, sports, societies and volunteering this academic year will look different, but it is fortunately one of the few things you can still do in lockdown.

There are still plenty of remote and virtual opportunities just waiting to be discovered by you. Whether you’re a creative, sporty or spiritual individual, there is likely to be a group or society out there to help you find your community away from home.

Feeling inspired? Your Students’ Union is likely to offer a wide range of volunteering opportunities; from sports, faith, cultural and academic societies, to fundraising groups and student media, all helping to bring students together.

Eating cheap but Eating well:
Student food doesn’t need to be dull, just because you’re on a tight budget. You may have to plan a little more so that the money you do have can go as far as possible but that is the hardest bit.

The transition from having your parents cook all your meals to having to cook for yourself doesn’t have to be scary, it can be fun! Why not start today and give a new recipe a go, try cooking with a flat mate or friend or make a resolution to stop getting so many takeaways!

Evidence shows that as well as affecting our physical health, what we eat may also affect the way we feel. Improving your diet may help to:
* Improve your mood
* Give you more energy
* Help you think more clearly

Don’t know where to start? There are thousands of great recipes on The Student Room website for university students to try – https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/life/food-drink/recipes/

Seek help when you need it – don’t wait:
Let’s normalise asking for help, expressing emotions and talking openly about our mental health. If you’re experiencing difficulties, then make sure you reach out and seek help. Help is at hand wherever you turn, whether it’s through the University, your Students’ Union or through external organisations like PAPYRUS. And it comes in all shapes and sizes – from offering a small nudge in the right direction, to providing more specialist, longer-term support.

UNIVERSITY SERVICES

Your University will offer a wide range of support if you’re facing challenges with your mental health. Most universities will have a team of qualified counsellors and mental health advisers, who will be able to offer you one-to-one counselling, wellbeing and health advice, and refer you to other services. They may also provide a range of courses and workshops, such as managing anxiety and mindfulness.

Your University may also partner with a specialist third party mental health support providers like SilverCloud or Big White Wall, which are online self-help programmes that you can use without an appoiment or GP referral.

Make sure to search their individual websites for more information on what your institution provides.

STUDENTS’ UNION ADVICE SERVICE

Your Students’ Union Advice Service can offer free and confidential advice. They are completely independent from the University and there to support you, offering non-judgmental advice and guidance so you can make an informed decision about the options available to you.

They will be able to support you on a wide range of issues, from academic, housing and wellbeing, so if you are unsure just get in touch.

EXTERNAL SUPPORT

If you at struggling with suicidal thoughts at university, or if you are worried about a fellow student who is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can contact PAPYRUS HOPELINEUK for advice and support. You can get in touch with HOPELINEUK from 9AM to midnight, seven days a week, on 0800 068 414, text 07860 039967 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org

The Student Room also provide a variety of fantastic blogs, advice and support for those struggling with their mental health whilst at university. For more information: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=659

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