Where to seek help during hard times

Olivia PIther·15 August 2022·5 min read
Where to seek help during hard times

It’s often common to feel down, unhappy, stressed, or anxious at times in your life. Especially if you’re a student, university can feel lonely, and degrees can be demanding. Don’t worry, you’re not alone – a lot of people go through these feelings of hopelessness yet don’t share them or seek help. Pushing away your negative feelings to just get on with university is short-lived, and you won’t feel ultimately happy. It is best to seek help no matter how small you may believe your problems are whether it is as simple as conferring with a friend, exploring self-help tips, or seeking professional advice.

There has been a significant increase in student mental health issues over the past decade, so now is an important time to remove the stigma surrounding mental health and pluck up the courage to admit you want to seek help! It is completely normal, and it will be worth it in the end. To help you, I have compiled a list of ideas, sources, and contacts if you are currently struggling, or know someone who is.

  • Online self-help – If you are experiencing perhaps a low-mood, lack of motivation or have noticed small changes in general within your mood, the first easy step to take may be to research tips on changing lifestyle factors to improve your general wellbeing. This could be anything from creating a daily routine, walking or exercising to be outside, or introducing a new hobby to your life. If you are into reading, I find reading self-help books in my spare time useful, or the NHS website offers guides and tools to improve mental health as well, as a starting point.
  • Students Minds charity – There are many mental health charities which are available to help you with any issues you are experiencing. I have recently written a blog about the Student Minds charity during the University Mental Health Day, as they offer a variety of support, with peer-support systems and helping to find university workshops for you. Mental Health charities also often provide support numbers so you can speak to someone.
  • Speak to friends or family – Simply sharing your thoughts and worries with a friend, colleague, or family member is often underestimated. Bottling up your emotions inside is unhealthy, so opening up and receiving advice or simply just support back can really help.
  • Speak to a tutor or lecturer – If you aren’t comfortable with opening up to those around you, perhaps seek support with a tutor from your university. Opening up to someone you don’t know as well may feel easier, as well as benefiting from extra help if your mental health is affecting your studying. You may be able to apply for an extension or a deferral on an assignment or assess your options with your academic supervisor to support anything you are going through.
  • University well-being services – Similarly, your university may offer well-being services where you can speak to someone to assess what help you may need, whether that is support through your studies as I explained above or finding a counsellor or therapist. The services can also provide websites and guides that may include free courses to help with your mental health.
  • Your local GP – You may want to seek medical advice and help from your doctor who can help you find out what sort of support you may need. This may involve being diagnosed or referred to a counsellor or therapist.
  • Counsellor or therapist – Talking to someone professional can really help a lot of people suffering with mental health problems, whether you have been referred by doctor or you can sometimes apply separately to practises. It’s not just students with a diagnosed mental health condition who can benefit from counselling, anyone can!
  • NHS helplines – If you want to talk to a stranger, the Samaritans line on 116 123 is always there to help 24/7, or if you don’t like speaking over the phone you can text “SHOUT" to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line (text “YM" if you are under the age of 19), available all day every day, run by the charity Mental Health Innovations.
  • Emergency numbers – If you or someone you know needs immediate and urgent help, call the emergency numbers 111 or 999.