Home » Managing Mental Health at University: Coping Mechanisms I wish someone told me in First Year

Managing Mental Health at University: Coping Mechanisms I wish someone told me in First Year

In the chaos of moving out of the family home and starting fresh, it’s easy to slip into habits that can be avoided with a few steps from a professional procrastinator.  

Believe it or not, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have a clean record of mental health these days. As unfortunate as this is, as a society, we are becoming a lot better at speaking openly about our issues that we might bottle up. When coming to university, especially outside of your hometown, our experiences with mental health are likely to spiral in the chaos of settling into your new city.  

From first-hand experience, I had a tough time in my first year of university. I was the first child in my house to leave the nest. I had no advice beforehand, no friends coming with me. I threw myself into a new place. And for the most part- I am proud of where I am today, but here are a few things I wish I knew to avoid catastrophe.  

Manage Your Money  

If there is one thing, I’m good at, it’s spending money. And in the excitement of getting out there and attempting to make friends. I found myself rinsing through my student loan very quickly, suddenly a thousand pounds isn’t a lot of money after the rent, the food shop, and the three nights out a week. I became very anxious about my money load too soon into the term, leading to weeks of sleepless nights and depression about how to get by. I found in my second year that when I would go through all my important financial transactions early on to see how much I would have for the rest of my term, I wouldn’t have to worry about surprise bills coming out.  

Utilize your Uni Councillor

Believe it or not, the University does care about you being there. They do understand how much you’re paying to be there. And with this comes a load of accessible help and programs to make your life a lot easier when managing your workload. Everyone has a time where everything becomes a bit unbearable, and this is not spoken about enough in the student community. If it wasn’t for the help I reached out for, I wouldn’t still be in university. They deal with all sorts of problems and are always on hand to help with anything big or small.  

 Don’t Ignore your Workload 

This might be an obvious one to you- but I have a tendency to just shut off completely when things get a little bit intense. I started ignoring my emails, leaving everything to the last minute, not turning up to lectures. And eventually I hit the boiling point and ended up failing my first term. I felt like such a failure, when all I had to do was speak to my tutors about the way I was feeling, and I would’ve accessed help. Try and stay on top of things, attend your sessions, communication is key.  

Leave Your Room

Sounds easy, but believe me, there’s something about your university room that just sucks you in. It becomes too easy to stay in bed all day. I had a very small and dark room that was detrimental to my mental health in my first year. No matter what was happening in the evening, it became harder and harder to see my friends and break up my time on my own, only adding to my battle with my mental health. Planning your day, food shopping or having a little wander around town is a great way of keeping your day active. Try working in the library or using the gym. Having hobbies other than sleeping and going out.  

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Lauren O'Meara Sims
Lauren O'Meara Sims
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