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Improving your Mental Health: a Student Guide

Written by: VP Wellbeing and Diversity https://www.upsu.com/representation/representatives/vpwellbeingdiversity/

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Dear fellow students, 

As a Students’ Union Officer, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with students and understanding some of the challenges that come with being a student. Mental health is one such challenge that affects many students, and I would love to take this opportunity to address it.

As a student, you may be facing numerous pressures that can affect your mental health, such as academic stress, social pressure, financial worries, and culture shock. It is important to recognise that you are not alone in this, and it is not always easy to start caring for your wellbeing, but here are some tips you might find helpful:

 

1. Find ways to relax:  If there is something that helps you relax, try to find time to fit it into your day. For example, this could be having a bath, talking to a friend, or going for a walk. If you find it difficult to switch off, you could try some relaxation tips and exercises recommended by Mind.

 

2. Do something you enjoy: Try to make time to do an activity you like on a regular basis. This could be something small, like cooking a meal, painting on a canvas, or listening to music. There is also plenty of support available from UPSU clubs and societies. UPSU Clubs and societies are good places to meet amazing people from diverse backgrounds. Alternatively, you could also get a membership plan at the SU Gym and/or be a part of any of the Give-it-a-go sessions we organise each week.   

 

3. Connect with others: Feeling socially isolated is a common challenge for many students. If you are struggling to make friends, you can consider signing up to the SU Buddy scheme that connects you to other students with similar values and interests. You can also create your own society and begin to take on members as soon as you get approved. If you still feel unsure of where to go, you can consider speaking to our pastoral and spiritual support team,  who can provide you with guidance and support as you navigate your time at university.

 

4. Take a break if you need to: We know that mental health issues can have a significant impact on a student's academic performance and overall well-being. It is essential to recognise that mental health is just as important as physical health. If you are feeling overwhelmed by a stressful situation, try to take a break. A change of scenery can help you to relax and relieve feelings of anxiety, even just for a few minutes.

 

5. Give yourself some screen-free time: If you find that being on your phone or computer a lot is making you feel overwhelmed or stressed, try to take a break. This could be for just an hour or two. If you find this difficult, try putting your phone in another room or setting an alarm to time yourself.

 

6. Try mindfulness techniques: Mindfulness is a way of paying full attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga. It has been shown to help people become more aware of their thoughts and feelings. This means that instead of being overwhelmed by your feelings, it becomes easier to manage them. Physical exercise can also help you achieve this momentum. You can check out the Meditation Society or visit Mind’s page on mindfulness for more information, including some exercises you could try.

 

7. Manage stress: We understand that university life can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to academic pressure and the stress this can bring. If you are feeling anxious or out of control, please know that you are not alone. We want to help you take care of your mental health and provide you with resources to manage stress effectively.

 

If you are under a lot of pressure, you may start to feel overwhelmed or out of control. Stress can also cause physical side effects. To deal with pressure and stressful events, our stress page provides helpful tips. If you need additional support, we encourage you to speak with our University's wellbeing service or  SU Advice. The Student Wellbeing Service offers a wide range of support for students, including one-to-one appointments, drop-in sessions, workshops, and group chats. They also have self-help material available online, and you can fill out an online referral form or reach out to them through email or phone.

Here are some comments from students who have used the Student Wellbeing Service and how they have helped them: 

 

“[They] never tried to fit me into a box, [they] just took me as I am and made me feel valued…and then, over time, I began to value myself. I want to thank [them] for all [their] support over the last couple of years. I hope [they] know just how grateful I am to have met [them].”

 

"Thank you so much for being so brilliant at the drop-in session. It just made my day feel a bit better by leaving your office. I have now filled in the self-referral form and checked the dates for the first aid for anxiety and calm and zoom sessions. Thank you so much for sharing the resources; it feels more hopeful."

 

In addition, if you are struggling with academic stress, do not hesitate to reach out to your personal tutors. They can help you create a manageable schedule or connect you with resources to assist you in managing your workload.

Remember, taking care of your mental health is a lifelong journey, and it is okay to ask for help along the way. You can always reach out to your friends, family, or campus resources for support. As a union, one of our major goals is to prioritise our mental health and work towards a healthier, happier, and more successful university experience for every student.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Together, we can create a safe and supportive environment for all students.

 

Yours sincerely,

Joshua Borokinni

VP, Wellbeing and Diversity

University of Plymouth Students’ Union

 

*Some part of this article was pulled from Mind’s resource on how to improve your mental wellbeing. You can take a full read below: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/wellbeing/wellbeing/

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