Posted on 31 January 2017
One in four people experience mental health problems at some point in their lives, yet people are sometimes reluctant to talk about it.
Thursday, 2 February is Time to Talk Day – the idea is to break the silence and recognise that mental health is everybody’s business. Just as we all have physical health, we all have mental health. And just as you can catch a cold or flu, you can struggle with mental health issues.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed, anxious, stressed or depressed? Many of us have or know someone who has - so let’s get talking. There are lots of things you can do to improve your wellbeing and increase your resilience.
One of the most important things is to share how you are feeling with others. Ever heard the expression ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’? Talking to someone who shares or understands your emotional state actually does reduce stress. There are lots of different people you can talk to, such as your friends, family, academic supervisor or college tutor. You can also talk to the University chaplains or YUSU and GSA welfare officers.
Prefer the phone? There are anonymous helplines such as the Samaritans or the student-run Nightline.
There is a strong link between diet, exercise and mental health. It is important to keep active, eat well and drink sensibly. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and lighten your mood. It doesn’t have to be a trip to the gym, it could just be a walk around campus. Your brain also needs a mix of nutrients to stay healthy so make sure to eat a variety of healthy foods. Avoid too much alcohol - it may be tempting to drown your sorrows but alcohol is a depressant and can actually make things worse.
Make sure you balance your studies with other activities. There are lots of different clubs and societies that you can get involved in - it’s never too late to join in. But if that’s not your thing then plan some simple breaks into your day, like going for a brisk walk, phoning someone you care about for a quick chat or meeting someone for a hot drink.
You are unique. Each person is on a different journey and following their own path. Social media can be a great place to connect with people who are experiencing similar issues such as the #timetotalk campaign. But if you constantly compare your life to others it can undermine your self-esteem. Remember, your worth is not measured by how many ‘likes’ you get.
Helping others makes you feel better about yourself. Something as small as a smile or a thank you can boost your wellbeing. There are lots of volunteering opportunities open to you through your college, YUSU or Careers and placements.
There are lots of online resources available to help you. Start by visiting the University’s Health and wellbeing web pages. You’ll find lots of useful information and links for a range of common challenges as well as specific mental illnesses.