Mental health - how it affects students and what we can do

Ani Talwar·30 November 2020·5 min read
Mental health - how it affects students and what we can do
Mental health…it’s a complicated topic. Knowing what it is is important, and how yours might change and what to do is useful for maintaining the happiest version of yourself. So what is mental health, how is it affected, and what can we do?

Mental health is broadly defined as the conditions that affect your thinking, feelings, and moods. This includes not only your emotional wellbeing but also your social wellbeing and is important at all stages of your life.

Being a student in 2020

Being a student at university living away or dealing with complex coursework for the first time can be scary and stressful at the best of times, and in the middle of a constantly changing and daunting world makes it even more difficult. The impact of current times on student mental health is uncertain as of yet, but as a student myself I can relate to the disconcerting feeling of being back and not being able to go to campus, not being able to organise study sessions or games nights, and being so close yet not being able to see any of your friends.

Many clubs can no longer run- especially those sports ones we love to socialise at and let off steam. The pressure to make friends with brand new flatmates is intense, especially for freshers, where now these may be the only people you see, and this can lead to a lot of stress, uncertainty, and desire to just fit in lest you be completely left out.

Taking care of yourself

In times of stress, all hope is not lost as there are some simple and effective ways to make sure you take care of yourself as well as everything else you have going on.

The NHS recommends portioning some of your time towards staying active as it helps clear your head to approach things calmly and making some important time just for you. Websites like Headspace also provide mindfulness articles and meditation to help you stay calm and Woebot is a useful tool which allows you to chat on an app that provides clinically proven therapy tools and data trends on your mood to help you be your best self and glean the most positivity from your day.

Websites like mind can also provide advice and help and simple things like doing more of what you enjoy, like cooking or dancing also help- so go ahead and sing your favourite tunes in the shower and bake an extremely large cake for desert! Limiting alcohol intake and making sure your diet is also important. BBC Good Food is great for finding recipes that won’t break the student budget.

Don’t be afraid to talk

Don’t be afraid to talk. In times where we are all separated, take advantage of your phone and technology and keep in touch and share what’s going on with those around you. If it’s being bored of zoom calls, try virtual escape rooms, watch a concert together, or go all out and invent a virtual board game!

Stress is a big part of life right now- from what is my deadline to how much is in the bank and can I finish this essay? Making sure you sleep is a good stress reliever, and the listed meditation may help with that. Improving your confidence and surrounding yourself with calming things like candles or simply chewing gum is recommended as a stress reliever by health line.

It’s definitely one of the strangest and possibly the scariest time we’ve ever experienced, and sometimes the effects catch up to us- but hopefully within this there are some accessible and helpful ways to make sure you understand, and take care of your mental health.

Student Minds

AFS is a proud partner of student minds. Student minds is a charity which works with students and academics to develop new and innovative ways to improve the health of students. You can find out more about their work and how they can help you here