This week is National Student Money Week, and we're encouraging ourselves and others to think a little bit about our finances as a student, and reflect on some of the bizarre (and often regrettable!) things we've spent our student loans on in the past.
All this month we've been reaching out and asking you to get in touch to 'confess your money mess' and you haven't disappointed. You've submitted confessions funny, strange, peculiar and some which we're not even able to share! It's been a tough job to narrow down over 100 submissions to our top 10, but we've managed it... and one of you lucky lot is the winner of £100!
However, National Student Money Week is also a time to reflect on some of the more serious issues we face whilst at University. Financial difficulties can be a struggle to deal with at the best of times, but doing so whilst dealing with the pressures of part-time or full-time study can lead to situations where mental health and wellbeing can be seriously impacted. It's important to know that you are not alone, and there are people who want to listen and help.
At SHSU we recognise that not everyone is in the same boat as what the 'typical student' is portrayed as in the media. We're proud to have a community of mature students, commuter students, international students, disabled students, LGBTQ+ students, BAME students, and students from walks of life as varied as the colours of Park Hill flats. It can be incredibly frustrating to be in a situation that's more complex and potentially bring barriers for funding, but there are some things you can do to help maximise the financial support you receive whilst at Uni:
There is probably nothing more annoying than spending money and then realising you didn't need to! The Access to Remote Learning Grant (ARL) was an initiative by the Uni to help students without access to proper IT or specialist equipment to engage in remote learning, offering grants of up to £475. The ARL fund itself was put in place to help with the transition from on-campus learning to remote/blended learning during the height of the Coronavirus Pandemic, and whilst the initiative is now closed, SHU offers lots of additional funding support which many students may be entitled to.
Scams and fraud are not new things, and sadly they're often used to exploit those of us who are actively seeking to further ourselves in one way or another, whether employment, education or maximising social media exposure. It's sometimes easy to have the 'that would never happen to me, I'm too careful' thought, but in reality scams are getting more sophisticated and, unfortunately, a lot of them are targeting, specifically students. Whilst the financial downfall of scams are apparent, what's sometimes less discussed is the effect it can have on the victim's mental wellbeing. Imagine in this circumstance, that the TikTok account and content is something you're really passionate about, or simply just something that helps brighten up your day when you're feeling a bit rubbish. Now imagine that the something you associate with positive emotions is turned against you to cost you a significant amount of money lost to scammers. There are likely to be feelings of disappointment, regret, and disconnect with something you've previously been passionate about, as well as potential fears around future finances, depending on the nature and extent of the scam. You can find support for various wellbeing concerns later in this article.
If you think you've been a victim of fraud or a scam, you should inform the Police as soon as possible.
Our top tips for avoiding falling victim to scams:
Whilst these tips are a starting point and useful to keep in mind, it can really help to familiarise yourself with common scams and emerging techniques fraudsters are using to trick people out of money. A few resources for increasing your awareness of scams:
Struggling with mental health and an unhealthy relationship with gambling can often go hand in hand, and although gambling can be fun, it's important to be aware of your own limits and when to stop. Certainly throughout lockdown many of us have turned to unhealthy habits either as a way to pass the time, or as coping strategies to deal with uncertainty, isolation and loneliness. Whether it's drinking, gambling, smoking or something else, it's something many people relate to so it's also important to know that you're not on your own, and that you don't need to face difficult situations in isolation. In fact, a recent survey by YGAM (The Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust) found that 80% of students have gambled whilst at Uni, with 41% of those stating that it had had a negative impact on their university experience, and 35% using borrowed money including their student loan to do so. There are some fantastic resources out there that can help put aspects of gambling into perspective, along with providing support and advice where needed.
During lockdown, it seemed that everyone became more and more aware of the need to look after our wellbeing, with the spotlight being very much focused on mental health. This was an incredible opportunity to change the way we view mental health and normalise the struggles we all face either occasionally or regularly. However, coming out of several lockdowns it's often felt like there's some pressure to go back to 'normal' and perhaps even an internal feeling that our mental health should automatically improve. When you step back and think about this objectively, that obviously isn't the case, and just because one set of circumstances changes (i.e. coming out of lockdown), it doesn't necessarily mean the way we feel will reflect positive steps in society, and individually, we can even feel left behind when we see our peers' wellbeing appear to be thriving.
We acknowledge that each person's circumstances are different, and there is no one-stop shop for overcoming challenges relating to wellbeing, mental health or trauma. It's important to know that there are many options out there to help you including traditional routes such as counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), which you can access via referral from your NHS GP, and we recommend keeping them updated with your mental health, just as you would your physical health. Sadly we're all too familiar with what can be lengthy waiting lists to access services, but there are many other options and resources available to you which you can access either whilst waiting for NHS support, or in conjunction with it.
If you need any further information or supporting information on any of the issues discussed in this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.