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11 Ways To Look After Your Mental Health At Uni

We spoke to mental health professionals at Students Against Depression, Mind, and the Mental Health Foundation.

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1. Remember, we all have ups and downs in life.

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"Being a student is a time of massive change, pressure, opportunity, and personal development, and student life is full of things that both challenge and boost our mental health,” Chris O’Sullivan, policy development manager for the Mental Health Foundation, told BuzzFeed.

"Between one in four and one in five people will develop a mental health problem at some point in their lives," he said. "The same applies to students. Student life, though, can be challenging, and it's important to recognise that.

"Isolation, change, pressure to succeed, uncertainty about employment prospects, debt, housing problems, and drinking too much can all make it harder to cope and lead to mental health problems. These things can be factors whilst studying."

2. Seek help for your problems.

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Jeremy Christey, the clinical lead for Students Against Depression advises students to seek help for their problems. "Don't hesitate to approach the range of mental health advisers and counselling services available at your university, as well as talking to other students and friends," Christey told BuzzFeed.

"If you've got a pre-existing mental health problem, don't feel bad about disclosing it to the confidential services available so they can help you as much as possible."

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3. Try to socialise.

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"If you are lonely, it can help to make the most of opportunities for social contact, however small," Stephen Buckley, head of information for Mind, told BuzzFeed.

"For example, meeting people for a coffee while planning a joint piece of work. Even if you are shy or find it difficult to join in, remember that there are likely to be other people in the same situation who will appreciate you talking to them."

4. Fit in exercise if you can.

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"As little as 10 or 20 minutes a day spent doing moderate physical activity can have a positive impact on your mental health," Buckley said.

"Exercise releases 'feel-good' hormones, which can help overcome a low mood. It can also distract you from unwanted thoughts or worries, and is an excellent way of coping with stress – especially if it's enjoyable."

5. Look after your friends and classmates.

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"Know what to look out for and if you are concerned, ask them, and be there for them," said Chris O'Sullivan from the Mental Health Foundation.

"Don't give stigma a home. Don't allow bullying to happen. It can be very hard to make friends if you've had a mental health problem, but just being there for others and sticking by them in tough times can make a huge difference."

6. Be engaged in the present.

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"Being at university is a great opportunity to try out different activities, join societies, get involved in new friendship groups, and take chances," Jeremy Christey from Students Against Depression said.

"Don't be too worried about what may happen in the future; do things that keep you engaged in the present."

7. Cut down on stimulants.

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"If you're tired, your worries can get blown out of proportion," said Stephen Buckley from Mind. "If you've been finding it difficult to get to sleep, try cutting down on stimulants (e.g. tea, coffee, and alcohol) and make sure you have time to unwind before bed.

"Some people feel very stressed about not getting enough sleep. Remember that it is normal to struggle to sleep before something you are worried about, e.g. exams."

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8. Make sure you have some days without drinking.

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"While many people enjoy socialising over a few drinks, remember that alcohol can worsen depression and, in larger quantities, can cause anxiety or other health problems," Buckley said.

9. Recognise your mental health.

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"Know how you are doing, the things that stress you out, and the things that lift your mood," O'Sullivan told BuzzFeed.

"Look up top tips like the 10 Ways to Look After Your Mental Health, and find something that works for you."

10. Watch your sleep patterns.

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"University is a time for stretching all sorts of boundaries, including how long you can manage without sleep," said Christey.

"Napping in the day and disrupted sleep patterns can be things to watch out for. Try and get light in the morning, exercise, and aim to go to bed physically tired, especially if you find yourself sleeping later and later each night."

11. Get help early.

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"The quicker you ask for help, the easier and simpler it is to get back on track," O'Sullivan told BuzzFeed. "Most universities and colleges have dedicated support services, including mental health support, and many offer peer support as well as counselling services.

"You should also talk to your GP if you have concerns which bother you for more than a couple of weeks. There are good tools like Doc Ready that can help you make sense of your concerns and prepare to reach out for help."

As well as Mind, the Mental Health Foundation, and Students Against Depression, there are various places in the UK to reach out to if you need help with your mental health.

The Samaritans have a support service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call them on 08457 90 90 90 (UK).

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