Take five minutes this term to have a conversation with someone about mental health.
Recent studies have shown that mental illness has soared among young women in the UK, and that university mental health services are struggling with a 50% increase in demand. Here are my top five tips for practicing good mental wellbeing at university.
Connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships. Why not invite a friend for coffee or call home to chat to your family?
2. Be Active.
You don’t have to go to the gym or buy expensive running shoes. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find the activities that you enjoy, and make it a part of your life. Even getting off the bus a stop earlier than normal counts!
3. Keep Learning.
Learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike? You could even try taking up a new craft – there are loads of knitting tutorials online!
4. Give to others.
Even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.
5. Take notice.
Be more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness ‘mindfulness’, and it can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges. You could try using a form of theological reflection, for example the Examen found in Ignatian spirituality.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, please seek help and talk to someone. Does your university have a counselling service? You can also talk to your GP and ask for a referral.