Mental health affects people of all ages, but now, more so than ever, it’s affecting those of us who go into higher education. It is estimated that about 20% of young people aged between 18 and 24 experience mental health issues.
Mental health disorders range from small every day worries, to lifelong implications. The most well-known and noted problems are:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Depression Disorders (i.e. Manic Depression and Bipolar)
- Psychotic Disorders (i.e. Schizophrenia)
- Eating Disorders (i.e. Anorexia, Bulimia)
- Impulse Control and Addiction Disorders
- Personality Disorders (i.e. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder)
From being an adolescent to becoming a young adult can bring on one or a few of these disorders and will affect each individual differently. For most who suffer from a mental disorder when going into higher education it’s the stress and big changes in their life which brings it on. Depression can be brought on when the high hopes of university can change into a not-so-hopeful reality and anxiety disorders can be brought on by the stress of meeting lots of new people and general worries of starting a new course.
Fresher’s week is meant to be one long party where new friends are gained and many hangovers are gained also. However, for those people who are a little more shy than others, or who generally don’t enjoy going out and getting drunk every night, it can be a lost cause; thus leading to more stress and more worries about not fitting in and not being part of the ‘norm’. On the flip side, drinking too much (or taking drugs) and generally getting into poor health during those first few weeks at university can contribute to the onset of these very serious disorders.
Sadly it seems mental health issues at university are becoming all too common, without actually being as well-known as they should.
There is, however, much help readily available for students who are struggling with these problems. Most universities offer a free counselling service, dedicated to helping students with mental health problems, as well as offering advice to students on other issues such as living arrangements and money worries. GPs and nurses at doctors’ surgeries can offer great advice and help with any of these issues and should be sought out as soon as the problem is acknowledged.
If you or anyone you know is suffering, the best thing to do is to not suffer in silence; talk to someone who you trust. If you don’t feel you know anyone who can help, there are many charities and organisations out there that will gladly help: