Confronting mental health issues

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Over the last few years, there has been a considerable increase in the number of students seeking help for mental health conditions- notably (but not exclusively) depression and anxiety. For many of us, the stress and pressure that comes with student life is difficult to deal with, but when it becomes too much it’s important to know that there are things you can do and places you can go to get help. As a fresher this year, I had many worries about how my mental illness would affect my life at university, and whether I would be able to cope. Thankfully I have found myself in an environment where everyone is understanding and there is support available at any time to anyone who may need it, and I sincerely hope that others in a similar position will feel the same way.

Experiencing depression and anxiety is often deeply personal, and it’s easy to feel as though no one understands. However, although it is different for everyone, sometimes we don’t necessarily have to understand in order to help. Sometimes talking is all we need, other times it’s the reassurance that no matter whether we’re having a good or a bad day there’s somebody there who cares, and other times it’s as simple as an essay extension or a lecture recording.

 Often it’s difficult to tell if someone is struggling from a mental illness as the symptoms manifest themselves in so many different ways. Depression isn’t always sitting in your room feeling sad all the time; it can be feeling constantly tired, being unable to get out of bed and do the simplest things, a lack of sex drive or even just not caring at all. Anxiety isn’t always rocking in a corner having a panic attack, sometimes it’s being unable to be around large groups of people, the fear of answering a question in class, or constantly worrying about being judged by others. Essentially- as with most things- mental illness is different for everybody, but just because someone experiences one symptom and not another does not make their feelings any less valid.

For any students here at Lancaster currently dealing with a mental illness, or who simply feel like they might need some help, there is a free counselling service available through the university which you can access via The Base or by emailing counselling@lancaster.ac.uk . As well as this, there are wellbeing officers for every college as well as welfare teams who you can also contact (more information is available on the university website). Finally, there is Lancaster’s confidential information and listening service: Nightline. This is available from 10pm to 8am every night of term and the number is 01524594444. Remember that your health and wellbeing always comes first, and asking for help may be one of the best decisions you can make.

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