Experiencing mental health difficulties at university can be an isolating experience. It’s easy to feel like you’re alone, or that you’re the only one who is struggling. However, the truth is quite different. In a recent government survey, more than a quarter of university students reported that they suffered from a mental health problem. Anxiety and depression were the most common, while eating disorders, behavioural problems and learning difficulties were also highlighted as important issues.
Starting university is a big upheaval for most students. Many are living away from home for the first time, getting used to the pressures of independent study and trying to make new friends. It’s a lot to deal with all at once, and it might feel overwhelming at times. Help is at hand, though. There are loads of resources available for students struggling with mental health problems, no matter how small they might feel to you.
What Are The Issues?
Homesickness - Studies show that up to 70% of students will experience homesickness in their early days at university. It’s perfectly normal to miss your friends and family, or to worry about settling into a new city, but these feelings can also cause some people a great deal of distress.
Academic Pressure - 71% of surveyed students reported that university work was one of their main sources of stress. The transition from A Levels to Undergraduate can be a difficult one, and you might also be worried if you have taken a break from study or if this is your first time studying in the UK.
Social Life - There are a number of common social problems that might cause additional stress. Loneliness, arguments with friends and relationship problems can all have a negative impact on your mental health.
Where Can You Find Support?
In A Crisis - If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts or feel like you might be at risk of harming yourself, there are a number of things you can do. You can call Samaritans for free on 116 123 - they’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their service provides confidential support for people in crisis. Alternatively, there are NHS services you can access if you require help from healthcare professionals - see the NHS Help with Suicidal Thoughts website for more information.
Counselling and Mental Health Support - Located in the Surrey building on Hallam’s City Campus, the Student Wellbeing service is there to support students with their mental health and make sure that they’re comfortable, healthy and happy. If you’d like to speak to a Wellbeing practitioner about any worries you’re having, pop into the reception or contact them on 0114 225 2136 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an appointment.
Online Peer Support - Big White Wall is a fantastic online mental health and wellbeing service. It’s easy to use, totally free and completely anonymous. Access online courses and self-help materials, chat to other users in a safe environment and express your thoughts and feelings through creative outlets. Visit the website to find out more.
Over The Phone - Nightline is a student-run, confidential and anonymous listening and information service. Their phone lines are open from 8pm to 8am every night during term time, and they run instant messaging, email and text services too. You can call Nightline on 0114 222 8787, or visit their website for more information. No problem is too small or too silly, so if you find yourself needing a chat don’t be afraid to give them a ring.
Practical Advice - Sheffield Hallam Students’ Union Student Advice Centre is open weekdays 10am - 4pm (12pm – 4pm Thursdays) on the first floor of the HUBS and Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10am - 3pm at 202 Oaklands (Collegiate Campus). The service specialises in advice on financial matters, housing rights and academic issues, but you can drop in and speak to a member of the team about anything that’s concerning you and they will usually be able to help. Advice is free, confidential, and independent from the University. They also have lots of self-help guides and can signpost to a number of other services on campus or around the city.
You’re Not Alone
It’s common to experience feelings of guilt or worthlessness if you’re suffering from a mental health issue. You might feel like your problems aren’t severe enough to warrant asking for help, or that you don’t deserve support, but this is never the case. No matter what you’re going through, these resources are there for you to access. No problem is too ‘small’ or ‘unimportant’ - if it’s impacting your happiness and quality of life, then you have a right to seek the help you need.
Your time at university should be as rewarding and exciting as it can possibly be. We want all of our students to thrive, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.
SHU Student Wellbeing (Mental Health Support)
SHU Disabled Student Support - Mental Health (Academic Support)
SHSU Student Advice Centre (Wellbeing, Housing and Financial Support)