Coping with mental illness as a student
The author of this article is not a medical professional. For medical support, see the available resources at https://www.universityofgalway.ie/disability/staff-support/supporting-students/mental-health/
The University of Galway has over 18,000 students, over a third of whom could be suffering from some mental illness such as stress, anxiety or depression, according to the latest research by the Union of Students in Ireland. However, even with mental health services being accessible, many of us hesitate to seek the help we need.
Students have it hard, especially those travelling internationally, who are now facing the brunt of exorbitant living costs and an acute lack of housing throughout Europe. This, in addition to feeling plucked from our homes, coping with a new country and, of course, class (with the magnitude of issues we are facing, worrying about lectures seems trivial!). All of this puts severe stress on our bodies and minds, which, left untreated, could lead to chronic health issues.
- Avoiding it will only make things worse!
There is no cut-and-dry method to deal with matters of the mind, but one thing I find that helps is to let it all out. If I’m stressed and keeping it to myself, I feel more isolated than ever before.
You don’t even have to talk to somebody. At times, just the act of crying, allowing your body the freedom to be openly sad and not hide it, helps by bringing a sort of catharsis to your mind. Give your mind time to process and acknowledge your emotions, and know that chances are your peers are feeling similarly, however hard it may be for you to believe that.
- Starting Conversations
Talking about mental health is slowly becoming normal and a more acceptable part of student life. Keeping this conversation alive is especially important as it creates a sense of community among students who, until now, were feeling isolated in their minds.
- When you’re feeling low, it becomes hard to remember that “we’re all in this together”.
Through my personal experience of suffering from undiagnosed mental health issues, I know that seeking help can be hard, and although it’s also not the ‘end-all’ solution to all of our issues, it sure does help to talk to a trained professional. The University of Galway also provides several other avenues, apart from mental health services to get students feeling better, like the ‘Off the Couch’ program, the counselling service and various health and wellness-related clubs and societies.
Starting university is hard, and sometimes the turbulence might make you regret choosing to take this life-changing opportunity. It helps to remember why you are doing this; try to find the joy in learning something new, meeting new people and making new connections and before you know it, it should start feeling a little better.