Looking after Your Mental Health as a Student

Most students see university as an opportunity to experiment, have fun with new friends and experience freedom for the first time in their lives.

However, lots of students across the world struggle from a whole host of different mental health issues from depression to anxiety and schizophrenia.

Whilst some people think students only ever party, lounge around their students flats and order takeaways, the reality is that university courses are becoming increasingly challenging.

When you couple this with increased university fees, social media and additional stresses such as Covid-19, university students can easily become stressed, overwhelmed, depressed and anxious.

When you combine this with the pressure of being away from family and friends for the first time, managing your finances and trying to socialise with new people, a lot of people suffer from mental health issues whilst at university.

If this is you, then below is a list of different ways you can help to maintain and improve your mental health whilst at university.

Look After Your Physical Health

Looking after your physical health whilst at university is incredibly important when it comes to your mental health.

In order to look after your health, it is incredibly important to exercise frequently, eat healthily, drink lots of water and get fresh air.

Exercise and physical activity plays a major part in looking after both your physical and mental health. According to The Mental Health Foundation [1] everyone should exercise on average between 75 minutes to 150 minutes every week.

However, lots of people struggle with these very basic self care tasks whilst at university. A hectic timetable and lectures often get in the way of exercise or hobbies, and extortionate student fees often leave students in debt, meaning they struggle to afford healthy food at university.

If you are looking for ways to look after your mental health whilst at university, download this free guide [1].

Avoid Abusing Drugs & Alcohol

Drugs and alcohol abuse is very common whilst at university. However, it is also one of the main causes of depression, anxiety and poor physical health amongst young people. In fact, the Mental Health Foundation highlights that all drugs will affect your mental health [2].

In order to keep on top of your mental and physical health at university, avoid taking drugs and binge drinking.

If you are abusing drugs or alcohol, and believe that this is affecting your mental health then it is important to ask for help.

Start by speaking to your local GP or by reaching out to a charity or helpline, such as rehabs.[4]

If you do suffer from a mental health issue alongside an addiction, then you will be diagnosed with a dual diagnosis and treated appropriately.

Sign Up to Your Local GP

Once you move into your halls at university, you should always ensure that you sign up to a local GP.

When it comes to looking after your physical and mental health at university, this is really important.

By signing up to your local GP at university, you will gain access to your local NHS mental health services, meaning that you will have easy access to mental health services all year round.

Create a Healthy Routine

If you are studying at university, now is a great time to start forming and keeping to a routine. A routine can work wonders for a person’s mental and physical health.

Try to start by making a habit of waking up at the same time every day, or try to maintain daily routines like going for a walk at the same time every day, prepping your food and sticking to your lecture timetable and schedule.

By successfully forming and sticking to these small, insignificant tasks, you will feel more and more motivated to look after yourself, and put your mental and physical health first.

Try to Get the Right Amount of Sleep Each Night

Everyone knows that people should be getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. However, for those at university, this is often very hard to maintain.

In fact, suffering from a lack of sleep can lead to some serious mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and ADHD [3].

Studies have shown that everyone should aim to keep to a regular sleeping pattern, and should also try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.

However, late night study sessions and night outs often mean that people do not end up going to bed until late, or sometimes not at all.

In order to help you sleep at night, try listening to a podcast or relaxing music before bedtime.

Understand Your Self Worth

When you are a student, or suffering from a mental health condition, it is important to know and understand your self worth.

You need to stay strong, and treat yourself kindly. Make sure that you prioritise your own self worth and mental health by eating well, exercising frequently and spending time doing things you love.

Take Up Hobbies

Whilst studying at university, you might think you do not have time for hobbies. However, by doing something you truly love and enjoy, you will find that you have more energy than ever.

Try going for a run, joining a new class or club at university to experiment to see what you like and don’t like.

Find Healthy Coping Mechanisms

The reason why some people struggle with stress and depression is because they use unhealthy and abusive coping mechanisms in order to attempt to deal with the stress, including abusing drugs and alcohol.

In order to deal with these mental health issues more effectively, find healthier coping mechanisms.

This might include exercising, going on a walk, ringing a friend for a talk or for advice, writing or playing with an animal.

Try Meditation

Studies have shown that mediating physically reduces stress levels. Meditation improves your current state of mind, helps you feel more calm and can also help to improve your state of mind when undergoing other forms of therapy, such as CBT.

There are meditation groups in most major cities within the UK. Alternatively, also search for meditation videos on YouTube, so that you can try meditation out from the comfort of your own home.

Ask for Help

Lastly and most importantly, know when to ask for help. Asking for help is a form of strength, and by doing so you will be taking the first steps to your recovery.

You can speak to your local GP, or mental health crisis team at university to speak to a therapist.

In order to gain access to help at university, you can also speak to your personal tutor or go onto your university’s website to get the contact details for their mental health crisis team who can help.

Every university wants to see their students thrive, so if you are suffering from a mental health issue at university then seek help today.


[1] https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/How%20to…exercise.pdf

[2] https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/d/drugs-and-mental-health

[3] https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/sleep-and-mental-health

[4] See more on alcohol rehab in bristol.


By Boris M
Boris M Mr