6 Key Mindfulness Insights that Highlight the Importance of University Mental Health Day
As with many other sensitive issues, we’ve still got a ways to go in talking more about poor mental health. Falling on March 1st in 2018, University Mental Health Day is a national campaign dedicated to doing just that.
Happily, mental health is now receiving more attention among medical professionals and society as a whole, with charities and celebrities lending their own influential and relatable voices to the cause.
We want to be part of the conversation. We want you to know that you are not alone.
In light of this mission, we’ve picked out some of the most significant insights from our recent research into student mental health and we’re here to share them with you.
1: 41% of students consider themselves to have poor mental health and 69% have felt this way for over two years
Poor mental health can refer to a dizzying number of different issues – any of which might leave the sufferer feeling alienated, lonely and even ashamed. We’d love to say that this isn’t news to anyone, but until recent years, the subject has been considered something of a taboo.
The irony of course is that many people might take comfort in the fact that they are one of thousands who feel the same way! If you’re struggling to stay on top of your mood at the moment, rest assured that you aren’t the odd one out and you’re as normal as anyone else. What is normal anyway?
You might feel on the verge of sinking, but there are plenty of others in the same boat and if you avoid bottling your feelings, you might find it easier to stay afloat.
2: 48% of students don’t know whether their halls of residence provide information about stress and mental health
When we were conducting our mental health research, an important goal for us was finding out whether students know who they can look to for that all-important helping hand. We were shocked to find out that 48% were unaware if they could approach somebody at their halls.
28% also professed to lack the same information about their university. We plan to spread the word in this sector and to increase our own efforts to make your routes to better health clear.
3: 39% of students have felt suicidal
At Campus Living Villages, we know that university can be a freeing, terrifying, elating and transformative experience – simply moving house is famously one of the most stressful things a human is likely to go through in their lifetime.
Add in figuring out how to cook, how to live without your parents, striking that work/partying balance and pressurising yourself to get great grades – it’s no surprise that you might relish huge parts of your new life, but also that you could become overwhelmed.
Distressingly, we found out that 39% of students have also felt suicidal. This tells us that awareness of the support available during these times needs to be amplified, and fast.
If you are having suicidal thoughts we implore you to visit your GP, or even a walk-in centre if you need urgent help. Doctors are trained to give you life-saving assistance in these situations, and you might find that simply talking about how you feel unburdens you massively.
4: Exercise seems to improve students’ mental health
It has long been known that exercise can improve mental health, but if you’re feeling so low you don’t want to get out of bed, it can be impossible to believe.
Here’s some inspirational nuggets to encourage you to join that class you’ve had your eye on for weeks:
- Research by the British Journal of Psychiatry has suggested that the more physical activity you do for fun, the less likely you are to show symptoms of depression. In fact, according to Mind.org, exercising three times a week can reduce your risk of depression by almost 20%!
- Of the 2,000 students we contacted, those who said they play sports or go to the gym in their spare time reported the lowest levels of poor mental health.
- Thanks to endorphins – the “happy hormones” your body releases during exercise – your mood is likely to improve, with a reduction in anxiety.
- Struggling with stress? Exercise can help your body to control cortisol levels which in turn can stop you from feeling tense and could also reduce stress.
- Exercise can give us time to think freely and mull things over naturally – something you might do less than you know. After an hour of Zumba you could even find that you’re thinking more calmly and clearly, about getting those ducks in a row.
- Increased self-esteem is the happiest side effect of exercise in our book. Once you start to see results and your fitness levels improve, you’ll feel really good about yourself and you might just find that you’re more prepared to deal with stress.
5: Social media might be contributing to your feelings of anxiety or depression
We found that those students who spend longer on social media are more likely to feel low:
- 34% of students who spend less than two hours a day on social have experienced poor mental health
- This figure rises to 40% when students spend two to four hours a day on these sites
- For those who spend over four hours on social media each day, the percentage rises to a telling 52%
Though we can’t prove that a troubled mental state is caused by social media, our findings suggest that pressure to conform to unattainable lifestyles could be having an impact.
Consider reducing the time you spend on networking sites and see if your mood improves.
6: There are people available 24/7 who know how to help you and – get this – they want to help you
Despite the combined efforts of universities, accommodation providers and lots of other concerned parties, it’s clear that far too many of you are still struggling!
As we said previously, we’re working to spread the word about poor student mental health, but in the short-term there are plenty of people who are ready and waiting eagerly to help you to feel more like YOU:
- Contact the Samaritans on 116 123. They’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you don’t want to speak on the phone you can email too, using firstname.lastname@example.org.
- PAPYRUS is an organisation made up of volunteers and dedicated to preventing suicide in teenagers and young adults. Call their HOPEline on 0800 068 41 41 between 10am and 10pm on weekdays or 2pm to 10pm on weekends. Alternatively, email email@example.com.
- For some handy resources and information from your peers (validated by health professionals), head to Students against Depression.
- Read up on students’ Mental Health Awareness Day to discover more about the cause.