In an NUS survey in 2014, 78% of students said they'd had mental health difficulties in the past year. It can be really hard to recognise or accept that you are experiencing difficulties with your mental health, let alone seek out the kind of support that suits you.
It can be hard to talk about matters relating to your mental wellbeing - but if something's affecting your studies then it’s important to let the University know. The extenuating circumstances procedure is there to enable you to confidentially report any issues that are affecting your studies.
If you have any questions or concerns about informing the University about mental health issues, you can discuss things confidentially with a Just Ask adviser. The Just Ask service is completely independent of the University.
All kinds of situations can affect your state of mental health. Here are a few fictional examples:
If you’re experiencing a dip in your mental health, you might feel worried about discussing it with people. It can seem intimidating having to speak to University staff, and you might worry that you’ll be judged, or that they might think you’re not well enough to study. Often students fear that no-one wants to hear about their problems, and might decide to keep struggling on alone. It can also be difficult to even recognise that you’re struggling with your mental health, especially if it’s the first time you’ve experienced it.
The most important thing is to talk to someone. It doesn’t have to be the University (although there are channels of support available there - see below). A Just Ask adviser can talk through any concerns you might have. We are not trained counsellors, but we can signpost you to suitable support services. Just Ask is a completely confidential service and we are independent from the University.
The University provide support via the Personal Tutor system (supported by Senior Tutors). It can be really good to talk to someone who understands the demands of your course and can give you practical advice about dealing with workload, etc. However, there are also other sources of support available.
If your mental health is affecting your studies, you can tell the University about it using the Extenuating Circumstances procedure. Filling in an EC form means that the University can take your ECs into account when deciding what happens if your marks end up being affected. It’s important that you fill in an EC form before the deadline (usually a couple of days after the end of each assessment period). Talk to a Just Ask adviser if you have any questions about this process.
If you’re worried about someone else’s mental wellbeing, try to talk to them about how they’re feeling. Tell them that you’re worried about them and encourage them to talk about things. You could suggest that they get in touch with whichever of the support services above seems most appropriate for them. If you don’t feel able to talk to them, a Just Ask adviser would be happy to talk the situation through with you. If it looks like an emergency, then check our Urgent Help page.
If you're having suicidal thoughts, try to ask someone for help. It may be difficult just now, but it's important to know you're not beyond help and you're not alone. If you're unsure who to talk with, contact details for the Samaritans and other sources of support are on our Urgent Help page.
There are lots of things you can do to look after your mental wellbeing. Here are a few suggestions:
|Get a good night’s sleep.
The amount and quality of your sleep has a great impact on your mental health. Equally, your state of mental health can also affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep. Try to stick to a regular sleep routine – get up at the same time each day, and go to bed when you start feeling tired. It can help to avoid looking at a screen, avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine before bed and spend some time winding down, maybe having a bath or doing breathing or relaxation exercises.
|Eat healthily and exercise regularly.
This may seem like common sense but your physical and mental health are closely linked. Exercising can do wonders to release stress.
|Connect with nature.
Environments affect our stress levels, and natural settings have been shown to be the least stressful. There are loads of green spaces both within and around Bristol, so go and explore!
|Try mindfulness techniques.
This can help you stay in the moment and disengage yourself from anxieties or worries. The NHS has some useful basic information on mindfulness. The Student Counselling Service runs a regular mindfulness group.
|Connect with other people.
Social connections can help people avoid isolation and can be a great distraction from negative thought patterns. Bristol SU has loads of societies, groups and sports teams you could join.