Managing mental health at the best of times isn’t always easy. Even a great day with friends or family can still end with a panic attack or feeling low. This is why it is always important to keep an eye on how you are really feeling as opposed to how you are supposed to be feeling. This doesn’t change at university; in fact, it may be even more important to check in with yourself as you have just made a massive change in your life by moving away from home and entering into your first year. It is an exciting change, but it can have a dramatic impact on your mental health, which is why giving yourself a break to take in the new atmosphere at university is a good thing.
For me, I’ve struggled with my mental health to varying degrees over the past few years of my academic career. A-Levels especially was an interesting time for my anxiety and depression. In fact, at one point it was so bad I ended up in the back of an ambulance…twice. It was not an easy time for me, and I was anxious that university would be exactly the same. After all, it’s the same concept isn’t it? You still enter a classroom with a person standing in front of a board trying to teach you stuff. You still have to go through all the dreaded exams and assignments. I thought it would just be the same and I would continue having panic attacks almost every day whilst trying to wade through really complicated, advanced work.
Now, I’m a bit of a perfectionist who doesn’t like to admit she’s wrong. In this case, I will happily tell you that prior-to-university me was totally wrong. University honestly felt like a massive weight being lifted from my very tense shoulders. I could finally breathe. This campus and the people in it are wonderful. The community atmosphere is so supportive and there is always someone to talk to if you are feeling stressed, be-it a tutor, lecturer, friend or someone from the Wellbeing Team. Even in the middle of the night, you can call a warden or the RSSO if you need to talk. It was a real comfort to me that whenever I felt overwhelmed with work or just plain homesick, all I had to do was make a call and someone would be there to talk me down, be extremely supportive and help me put things in perspective.
Knowing that lecturers would make the effort to signpost me to the Student Success Team if I was struggling also eased my nerves and gave me confidence that I could achieve what I wanted in all modules. The people here are amazing, after all it’s not every day you see a lecturer dancing on a Monday morning to try to motivate students to engage and learn. Like I said, there’s a myriad of people here that will always be around to help.
Believe me when I say I know coming to university will be an adjustment. But with so many supportive people around you and many different teams to help you succeed in your first year, by the end of it you’ll be wondering what you were worried about. At Writtle, there is always someone to turn to. The Student Success Team helps with revision, time-keeping, taking lecture notes and so much more. They will give you the support you need to succeed academically. The Student Union plan a variety of events to cheer up students and ensure the fun side of university is fully accessible. The Wellbeing Team is always on-call to help you manage your mental health or to discuss any concerns or worries you have about life at university. With all of these people around, it’s almost impossible to panic.
I’m not saying it will always be easy, I’m still managing my mental health. But I can confidently say that, at university, I feel better than I have in a long time. The people here and the atmosphere of the campus has given me a new sense of confidence when it comes to learning, helping me to cope with my mental health. It has been an adjustment transitioning from Sixth Form to university but settling into a routine and allowing myself to have fun while learning has had a very positive impact on my mental health. I hope it will do the same for you.
Written by Emily Toogood
2nd Year Veterinary Physiotherapy Student