University is hard; there’s no doubt about it. Everybody always tells you how it’ll be the best years of your life and how much fun you’ll have and, while it is definitely those things, it’s also extremely difficult. You never expect the sheer quantity of reading that is thrust upon you, and it turns out that getting a degree actually really does involve a huge amount of work. On top of that, you also have to work out how to budget and make friends and feed yourself. Feeding yourself really is quite tricky and Dominos being open until 5am really doesn’t help you stay on top of your budget.
So with so much to handle, wellbeing becomes very important to a student’s survival. And while we may self-administer alcohol or copious amounts of chocolate to help us feel better, it can’t always mend us – only patch us up.
Almost 80% of students have experienced mental health problems in the last year, and this is hardly surprising as mental wellbeing is one of the hardest things to maintain whilst at university. You’re thrown into a completely new environment and have to settle in, make friends and find your way around a seemingly endless campus. After that stress is over you then begin the battle of trying to juggle work, sleep and your social life. Invariably, sleep loses the fight (and getting enough sleep is crucial to maintaining a healthy mind); so naturally, mental health issues run rampant in universities.
Any doctor you go to for most mental health issues will encourage you to exercise, get those endorphins going. At Loughborough surely nothing could be easier, right? Wrong. Although we may attend a university with world class sporting and training ground that cater many professional athletes, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get some exercise in. Sure, we’ve got all the facilities, but it’s almost more daunting to think that you could run into someone famous when you feel like crap. And as undefeated BUCS champions, there’s also the element of competitiveness to take into account. It’s great in matches (and maybe even in drinking games) but for someone whose mental health is taking a hit, it’s the last thing they need; the sports scene isn’t exactly the best place to examine your life choices if you’re being screamed at by an Amazonian, endorphin-filled Lufbra lass.
A doctor might also tell you to talk to someone you trust, but this can seem like a huge challenge. You’re at university with thousands of other people and you might be scared to talk to your friends about it, in case you push them away. Your family are most often quite far away and all your childhood best friends are scattered across the country. And that’s only for the UK students, it must be so much harder for all of the international students here at Loughborough.
So it then becomes a question of finding what helps you best, because everyone is different and what works for some people won’t for others. Maybe we should all try something new to help us feel happy; mental wellbeing is important, whether you have a diagnosed mental illness or not. Try picking up a book or taking up drawing; play video games or join a society.
Keep happy guys!
– By Meg Chastney