Managing your mental health

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Today is World Mental Health Day and it’s all about raising awareness and encouraging conversation about mental health problems of all kinds. A report released this August showed that 1 in 4 university students suffer with mental health problems such as depression or anxiety, so it’s vital to talk about these issues – and to seek help. We’ve put together some top tips for dealing with mental health issues while in education.

Talk to someone

This might be the scariest step but it’s potentially the most beneficial in the long run. Whether it’s your friends, family or a trusted teacher or lecturer, just letting someone know you’re struggling can be a huge weight off your shoulders. You can stop bottling things up and tell someone when you’re feeling low, and just sharing your concerns can often make you feel better.

Find a positive outlet

It’s important to find something positive to channel your feelings into and avoid harmful escapes like alcohol or drugs, which will only make you feel worse. Find something you enjoy like art, sports or learning a new skill. Anything that will keep your mind occupied is a great way to find some relief from the symptoms of mental illness, and if it’s something productive that’s even better.

Sleep well

It’s amazing how much better a good sleep can make you feel. However, many mental health issues affect our sleeping patterns so it’s important to get them back on track. Creating a routine for yourself is the best way to ensure you’re getting enough sleep as well as leaving time for everything else that needs done. Try to get up at the same time each day and go to bed at the same time each night – late nights and long lies may feel good at the time but you’ll pay for them later! Create a nightly routine to help you wind down – maybe a nice bath, a cup of hot chocolate and a good book. It gives you something to look forward to at night and signals to your brain that it’s time to switch off.

Look into counselling

The vast majority of schools, colleges and universities offer free counselling services so make the most of it while it’s still available to you. A trained professional can help you work through your issues and provide expert advice on how to manage your illness. They can also communicate with other members of staff (only if you want them to) to make sure they understand your problems and provide additional support where needed.

Join a club or society

Loneliness can be an awful thing for those with mental health problems, but clubs and societies are brilliant places to meet new people and make friends with similar interests. Universities always have a vast range of clubs so there’s guaranteed to be something you’ll enjoy. If you’re in school where there’s less choice, look elsewhere like local sports clubs or community courses – a quick online search will show you exactly what’s available in your area and you could end up with some amazing new friends.

Study your way

Everyone learns differently, so if you’re struggling with your studies it may be because you haven’t found your study style yet. Some people learn better through visuals, while others need to put things into action more practically. It can be easy to fall behind on your studies when you’re dealing with mental health problems, so finding a way to work well takes some of the stress off and keeps you on track. Take this Young Scot quiz to find out your study style and make school one less thing to worry about.

These are just some simple ideas to help you manage the symptoms of mental ill health, but if you are struggling the best thing to do is see your GP and let them know. They will be able to advise you on the best ways to treat your illness and can provide you with further treatment if needed.

You can also check out these online resources for more information and advice: NHS, Think Positive and SAMH.

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