To read the full zine, click here.
University: The best years of your life?
That’s what everyone says about your time at university, right? The freedom, the independence, three years (or more) of partying, occasionally fitting in a bit of work for the degree you’ve chosen in between nights out at the students’ union.
These are the years to really live it up before you’re thrown into the “real world”, before you’re burdened with bills and mortgages, before you get stuck in the rat race of work and responsibilities. But what if university doesn’t give you the best years of your life? What if they’re stressful and daunting?
If you’re not enjoying your time at university, this can be quite an isolating experience. If the prevailing narrative suggests that everyone is having a brilliant time while you’re having a miserable one, it’s easy to get the impression that you’re the only one who feels like this.
That is just not true, you are not alone – 92% of students have had feelings of mental distress.
There are many reasons why someone might not enjoy university. The course may not be what you expected, you may miss home, you may struggle to find friends, the workload and expectation might be stressing you out or you might not be getting the pastoral support you need. These problems are all bad enough in themselves, but they can also be exacerbated by poor mental and physical health. If you are feeling stressed, don’t suffer in silence. If you’re struggling with how you feel, these organisations can help:
YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing & mental health of children and young people. YoungMinds Vs is a mass movement of young people campaigning about bullying, access to counselling, early sexualisation and school & university stress. This article is an excerpt from a zine written by young people for young people inspired by YoungMinds Vs Stress at University. You can download it here.
If you’re struggling to cope, a good first step is to talk to your GP - make sure you’re registered with one at your uni. It can help to write down what you’ve been going through before your visit.
Most universities have counselling services, which will give you the chance to talk through your experiences in a non-judgemental space. Find out more on your uni’s website.
Student Minds run support groups, especially focusing on depression and eating disorders, which are led by other students. Find out if they have groups at your university: studentminds.org.uk
Tutors and student welfare officers
There may be a tutor assigned to give you pastoral support, or a student welfare officer you can talk to.
In an emergency
If you’re about to harm yourself or have already done so, phone 999 or go to A&E and explain that you’re at risk.
Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity, giving students the skills, knowledge and confidence to talk about their mental health & look out for their peers.
Nightline is a student listening service which is open at night & run by students for students.
getconnected.org.uk / 0808 808 4994
The Mix (previously Get Connected) offer a free, confidential telephone & email helpline finding young people the best help whatever the problem.
Straight talk on mental health medication. Look up your medication to find out about side effects & things you might not feel comfortable asking your GP about.
samaritans.org / 116 123
Samaritans volunteers listen in confidence to anyone in any type of emotional distress, without judging or telling people what to do.
talktofrank.com / 0800 77 66 00
Confidential information & advice for anyone concerned about their own or someone else’s drug or solvent misuse.
Use Stonewall’s area database to find local lesbian, gay, and bisexual community groups, other generic services & gay friendly solicitors.
B-EAT youthline 0845 634 7650 / Fyp@b-eat.co.uk
Information, help and support for anyone affected by eating disorders.
A online guide to life for 16 to 25 year-olds. It provides non-judgmental support & information on everything from sex & exam stress to debt and drugs.
Youth Access is a national membership organisation for youth information, advice & counselling agencies. Provides information on youth agencies to people aged 11-25.
The zine was edited by Jasmine Wyeth, Grace Veenan, James Reay and Harrie Williamson