University Mental Health Day: Blessing’s mental health advice
Today is University Mental Health Day, which aims to bring together the university community to make mental health a university-wide priority and create ongoing year round change to the future of student mental health.
Student Blessing has depression and Borderline Personality Disorder (BDP) - here’s her advice for supporting yourself and others in a similar situation.
Get educated - for yourself, and for others
Despite the focus on mental health in recent years, stigma, misinformation and lack of knowledge still surround the topic heavily.
Growing up, people used words such as depression, OCD and bipolar so frivolously that the terms developed a whole new meaning. Using these words so nonchalantly is insensitive and potentially even harmful.
Take time to learn about mental health issues and disorders - this will help you approach mental health in a more educated and informed manner, both with yourself and with others.
To get better, you need to want to
As someone who has struggled with their mental health, and seen others go through the same, I believe you have to truly want to get better for there to be any real change in your life.
From experience, it’s easy to wallow in your problems; they even sometimes provide a sort of weird comfort, or a crutch. Taking that first step and admitting that you want to improve your health is crucial for your recovery - if you don’t, you won’t make proper use of all the support that’s out there.
Pick a confidant - even if that’s yourself
Find someone you feel comfortable talking to about your problems. This may be a family member, a friend, or one of your lecturers. If you find it hard to talk to somebody you know, make an appointment with your local GP and tell them how you have been feeling and ask for a referral to a mental health specialist.
As well as this, while it may sound weird, I found speaking to myself helpful. I once felt like nobody could understand what I was going through, and I didn’t know how to communicate or express this. I began to verbally express my feelings to myself as if I was talking to another person. This helped clear my head, calm me down, and work through my emotions effectively.
Find joy in little, everyday things
For me, finding joy in small things - like watching my favourite Netflix show - offers a quick fix for picking up my mood and state of mind.
I’ve also found exercise a great tool. If you cannot afford a gym membership, go for a bike ride, walk, run or jog. I’d recommend doing this in the day when you can enjoy the sunlight, as that’s also a mood booster.
Accept the ebb and flow
If there is anything that I have learnt about having mental health issues, it’s that nothing is constant. You can feel perfectly fine one day and terrible the next. Lean into this, and find comfort in the knowledge that it will get better.
You can also use the better days as motivation to keep working on yourself, and to reach a place where you feel confident that you can handle any future struggles with your mental health.