We asked university students how they deal with mental health issues

Eto Worchie
London
Sunday 03 July 2016 07:11 BST
(Pixel Head Photo/iStock)

Figures recently issued by the Office for National Statistics have shown that there were 130 suicides among both nation's full-time students aged 18 and over in 2014, with the number considerably higher among men. With the student suicide rate at its highest in nearly 10 years we asked university students about their struggle, how much help is available to them and how they manage they deal with the pressure of everyday student life.

The students names were changed to protect their identities.

Chelsea, 21
Depression
City University London
I'm a proud person so thought I'd power through it however it's gotten too much so I've made an appointment with my GP for next week. I haven't been able to concentrate at all to do work, can't even sit still and literally have to drag myself out of bed to do any university work. I’ve been managing it by just sleeping and procrastinating to be honest, I just putting all my responsibilities off for later. I'm not even sure if my university has anything for people struggling with mental health since I've never seen such thing being advertised in any way and I've never sought it since I don't like the idea of speaking to people about personal stuff. I feel like if I reached out to my university for help they would give me some unhelpful counselling sessions with the school appointed counsellor so I won’t. I feel like for other people’s sake help should be more accessible and visible around the university and stuff, it’s no secret that may student’s struggle with mental health.

Sabrina, 20
Anxiety & Depression
Central Saint Martin’s School of Art and Design
I feel like my background has greatly affected my mental health issues, I come from a single parent household where things were never easy, an Asian household at that, there are strong stigmas surrounding mental health there. I’ve been financially independent for the duration of my higher education and have had health issues affecting my education since GCSEs. Coupled with my mental health issues I scans revealed I have a high risk of cancer due to abnormal cells, symptoms of endometriosis and I’ve suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome. I assumed the move to university and change of environment instigated all my ailments, so I ended up missing the first two months of uni being bed ridden and in severe mental and physical pain. I was already behind on assignments and work and struggled to catch up. Being ill really messed things up more, I was unable to make new friends I felt very alone and by myself, everyone else had joined groups and made friends and I was alone. I asked my university to move me to an accommodation closer to campus so it would be a bit easier to try and attend classes and they didn’t even consider it.

My university is in North London and I’m staying in a basement room with as many staircases and doors in the way as you can imagine. I was told not to dispute or request again as there was no guarantee I would be even given a place. I spoke to my course leader explaining how all of this had been taking its toll on me. She responded very insensitively by saying "well you haven't come here to work in a shop so either lessen your hours or don't work at all" and that "I'm not the only one in this position". Some logistic issues with my GP made it very hard to get certification for an ISA which is documentation signed by my GP to confirm I have an on-going illness, which meant that when any work is submitted the exam panel will consider my condition.

I spent weeks alone in my flat and my depression has just grown and I left my part time job which made it hard to be financially stable. I feel very let down by everyone I’ve sought help from I’ve had panic attacks in front of my GP and she seemed to just want to get me out of the office, my course leader’s attitude towards me has been very passive and they make me feel like I’m winging or complaining. I’ve had no support from anyone else or any outside body. I don’t know how I’ve gotten through the year.

Chelsea, 19
Anxiety & Depression
University of Kent
My law advisor suggested my issues were more serious than I first presumed. I registered with my university GP as soon as I could. I applied for an independent learning plan so my deadlines could work around me instead of the other way around. My mother knows about my situation to a certain extent and a handful of friends who have been extremely helpful and supportive. It’s affected me more than I first realised, especially with my interactions with people and quality of my work.

Terrence, 22
Anxiety & Depression
De Montfort University
My university have been decent actually, offered counselling, deferrals. There's a mental health inclusion team that give advice and help. The support they offered was quite good.

I don't really manage my health well and I got help late in the day for it so it’s impacted university, no clue what I'm going to get. Outside help would be the local GP, NHS offer separate counselling and obviously anti-depressants and other things. AD's don't always work though, can mess with your head and make you worse. Friends as well to some degree, not everyone gets the struggle and it can put a strain on relationships in general. And it affects things like lectures mainly, getting out of bed on some days is almost impossible so you miss out. Also anxiety doesn't help when you want to join socials and get involved with university life. Like I was part of the rugby team, mooting and other things but I couldn't do it after a while. It basically hindered me from further opportunities at university. If I had managed everything before I came to university things would have been better

Lola, 23
Anxiety & Depression
University of East Anglia
The university wasn't good in dealing with my mental health. I had gone to see one of the resident counsellors on campus on two separate occasions and all they suggested after listening to me was to take medication. In fact, I didn't even feel like I was being listened to and that they felt sticking me on meds would be the quick fix solution that I needed. I had also attempted to use an external NHS counsellor but again, nothing really came of it but a suggestion to put me on medication. During my time at university I didn't deal with my depression very well. My depression escalated to the point of self-harm and suicidal thoughts. The times I did speak out about it to friends or family I was either laughed at, told that I'm just being over emotional or they tried to "fix" me there and then, rather than just listening. My depression inadvertently, along with other stimuli, led to me recently dropping out of university.

Sophia, 22
Anxiety & Depression
University of Warwick
Half of my courses are Law and the other half are sociology. The sociology department has been really helpful and supportive but the Law department don’t seem to care much, it’s like they just see me as another statistic. I requested to reschedule my exams as I had just recovered from a bone marrow transplant to treat cancer, and during the time I was recovering I became very depressed, my Law course leader claimed my mental state isn’t linked to my condition. My lecturers would put me on the spot when I didn’t in front of the rest of the class asking ‘why have I not been in class?’ as if I was to casually say ‘sorry I’ve got cancer and depression’, treatment like this from seminar teachers and lecturers just made my anxiety worse, the thought of going back to lessons for more of that same treatment made me skip more sessions, when I barely even has energy to attend the ones I was already going to.

I think I’ve managed to deal with these things well throughout the year but I’ve kind of realised my university aren’t going to help me, so I’ve gone back to the cancer team and NHS for support. It’s more pressure on me to do this without my universities support. At home I have a pretty amazing support system; I wouldn’t have made it without them. If I didn’t have such amazing friends and family this year would have been a disaster and I would have had to deal with this all myself since I didn’t get much support from uni.

I’ve been someone who loves learning and has a big thirst for knowledge, but both my mental and physical health issues have kind of drained me of that, I don’t have as much energy for it as I once did. There’s been a direct correlation between the support in certain subjects and how well I’m doing, I still manage to do well considering what’s going on when my lecturers offer some sort of support, but it’s evident in my grades when they don’t help.

If you or someone you know has felt like they've exhausted all their resources, call the 24/7 emergency hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit the National Health Service website for issues including depression, addiction and suicide.

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