As Stephen Fry once said, “Student life isn’t always the party people might think it is.” Homesickness, exam stress and social pressure can all play a part in how you feel, and it’s normal to be finding things tough.
Although it’s tempting to keep everything inside, this can sometimes make you feel worse and have a negative impact on your health. People often say ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, and while it isn’t quite as simple as this, opening up to someone can certainly help you feel better. But who can you talk to?
Have a friend that you trust? Talk to them. It’s okay to lean on your friends and tell them how you are feeling. Even if it’s just to have someone who will listen, keep you busy or send you hilarious gifs, it all helps.
Nightline is a UK-wide listening service that is free, confidential and open through the night during term time. Run by trained student volunteers, the service gives you the opportunity to talk with someone about how you are feeling without fear of judgement. Find your Nightline here.
Another option is to speak to the staff members on your course. They have got into teaching because they want to help young people and are often more than happy to have a private conversation with you about how things are going.
This represents a good opportunity for you to get things off your chest and discuss how your work is being affected by how you are feeling. Letting them know about this may result in you being given more time to complete your work, taking some of the stress off your shoulders.
Your university or students’ union has support services that provide a safe, judgement-free and confidential place to talk if you would like to. To find details about the support services available to you, head to your university’s website or Google the name of your place of study, along with the phrase student services.
Student Minds is a student mental health charity in the UK that is dedicated to helping young people through what can be an incredibly challenging time in their lives. There is a range of useful information on the charity’s website, where you’ll also be able to find out about the peer support programmes on offer.
These support groups can be found at universities across the country and provide a safe, confidential space for students to talk and listen without judgement. Even if you just want to turn up and listen to what others have to say, that’s okay.
Want to have a quiet word with someone in person? If you head down to reception, someone from the team will be happy to spare some time for a chat and can put you in touch with other people who can help.
If no one is there, the Unite Students Emergency Control Centre (ECC) is available 24/7, with friendly staff on hand to answer your questions and point you in the direction of someone who is able to meet with you. You can contact the ECC on 0300 303 1611.
Once you are registered with a local doctor’s surgery you can then see a GP, who will be able to advise you on what you can do next or how they might be able to help.
If you’re feeling particularly bad at a certain moment in time, the volunteers at Samaritans are there more than happy to help. No matter the time of day, you can call them to talk and they’ll listen. They won’t judge and they won’t tell you what to do. Call them for free on 116 123 or visit samaritans.org for more info.
It’s important to remember that no matter how alone you may feel, the truth couldn’t be more different. There are lots of people that would be happy to chat, and all you have to do is take that first step and ask.
Sharing what’s on your mind can lighten the load on your shoulders and you may even find that another perspective helps you digest how you are feeling. If not, the person you decide to speak to may be able to direct you to someone who will be able to help you cope with everything. At the very least, they might just be able to make you laugh.
So go ahead. Open up, speak to your friends or reach out for help. It’s a big step, but it’s a positive one.