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First published:
08/03/2023

Top Tips

Let’s Get Talking about Student Mental Health: University Mental Health Day

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Thursday, March 9th 2023 marks University Mental Health Day. Originally delayed from March 2nd, the awareness day is run by Student Minds and the University Mental Health Advisor Network and is set to get the nation talking about the importance of student mental health.  

Here, we share some tips on how to look after your mental health as a student and some of the different ways you can mark University Mental Health Day. 

Student Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The last few years have been a turbulent time for students. Missing out on face-to-face teaching and spending time with friends has taken its toll on many students’ mental health.  

According to Student Minds, 74% of students reported that COVID-19 had a negative impact on their mental health and well-being at university.  

Higher education faced significant challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic when teaching switched to completely remote working. This in turn left thousands of students isolated from their peers and reduced support from academic staff. 

Many students were also financially impacted by the pandemic due to the shutdown of the economy.  

However, while the pandemic has now subsided, the pressure on students has not. With many demands and expectations, it is easy for students to feel overwhelmed. 

What are Some of the Stresses Affecting Students?

University is a stressful time which can sometimes lead to poor mental health amongst students. 

According to research conducted by the mental health charity Mind, 1 in 5 students has a diagnosed mental health problem. 

Some of the common stresses students face include:

  • Living away from family and friends for the first time, 
  • Balancing a part-time job with university commitments, 
  • Making new friends, 
  • Meeting numerous deadlines and studying for exams, 
  • Managing finances and learning how to budget. 

Students are susceptible to the following mental health problems:

  • Anxiety 
  • Depression 
  • Eating disorders 
  • Suicidal feelings 

Some of the ways that mental health problems can present themselves include: 

  • Feeling down and unmotivated, 
  • Feeling worried and overwhelmed, 
  • Losing interest in things that you normally enjoy, 
  • Withdrawing from social situations, 
  • Sleep disturbance such as oversleeping or struggling with insomnia. 

How Can I Get Involved in University Mental Health Day? 

There are many ways that you can mark University Mental Health Day.

1. Spread the word online

Social media is a powerful tool. One of the easiest ways to get involved in University Mental Health Day is to engage with others online by using the hashtag #UniMentalHealthDay.

2. Fundraise for Student Minds

Why not rally your friends to host an event at your university? This could be an online bingo night, a bake sale, or even distributing flyers across the campus to make students aware of the importance of talking about mental health.

3. Join an event hosted by a university

Plenty of events are taking place to mark University Mental Health Day. Check out this page on Google to view the various events taking place across Northern Ireland.

4. Familiarise yourself with your university’s well-being services.

All universities have a duty to care for the well-being of their students.

Your university will have a disability and well-being service that will be responsible for supporting students with their physical and mental health. 

University disability services offer a range of support including: 

  • Well-being programmes such as mindfulness and stress management 
  • One-to-one counselling  
  • Adjustments to learning and teaching 
  • Group therapies
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) 

However, it is important that you contact your GP if you are struggling with your mental health.  

As well as discussing possible treatment options and helping you to manage your mental health, your GP will also be helpful in providing you with a medical letter to support any personal circumstances you may wish to present to your university.  

Support for Your Student Mental Health and Money Concerns 

Mental Health and Money Advice Service 

Being a student can put a strain on your finances, especially during the current cost-of-living crisis. 

Here at the Mental Health and Money Advice Service, we have a range of tools that will make money management easier.

There is a free budget planner which will help you to manage your finances and prioritise bills.  

You can also download the free mental health and money toolkit, which is a great way to help you manage your mental and financial health.  

MindWise

MindWise works to support those at risk of, and affected by, severe mental illness and mental health difficulties.

Student Funding

You may be entitled to undergraduate student funding via Student Finance NI.

This can include student loans, eligibility, payments, and tuition fees. They can also advise on any additional funding that you may be entitled to once they have received your completed application. 

For example, if you have a disability or additional learning needs, you may qualify for the Disabled Students' Allowance.

Discretionary Funds are also available for students experiencing financial hardship while studying.

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