A cathartic guide to student living
As results season draws to a close and students start flocking to their new homes, a cloud casts shadows upon this usually joyous time. Student mental health issues are on the rise and many students are struggling to cope with their new environments. You are told “University will be the best three years of your lives” by friends and family as you prepare to leave home. The flood of excitement, nerves and relief you felt as you got your results is slowly becoming a memory.
A time to celebrate and get ready! but what should you be preparing for? Exams, partying and making new friends are all on the cards. Directing your focus towards one or the other can have far reaching consequences as you begin your studies. Considering the rise in student mental health, how should universities be assisting students in dealing with the changes they are soon to experience?
Arriving at Uni
The first struggle for those arriving at university is how to meet new people. Among the bustle of new arrivals teenagers, who have often never lived away from home, are forced to acclimatise to a foreign situation. This can lead to a series of problems including exclusion, loneliness and bad decision making influenced by peer pressure. On this side of things there seems to be a drastic difference between campus and non campus universities. Those living on site are often able to make friendships easier and develop a sense of community. Joining clubs, societies and sports teams is a great way to meet new friends.
Campus universities seem to have an advantage in this sense as sign ups and freshers fairs are in close proximity to accommodation. Those who miss out have a range of services to help them find a place. This is not to say that city universities are unable to do this but more effort and expenditure has to be placed on artificially nurturing this sense of community. As a prospective student this is definitely worth considering and as for the role of the university, it is vital for them to help foster and promote this kind of activity.
For most of us peer pressure is a strong and persistent force throughout our lives, though for many it is no greater than when at university. For a new student arriving on campus it can feel like the rest of the establishment are cool, calm and collected. It may appear like everybody is able to balance social life, studies, work and partying. While it may seem this way from the outside often this could not be further from the truth. As we have slowly learnt to disguise our feelings, often influenced by the plastic, airbrushed celebrities of social media, it can seem to the individual like they are the only one pretending. In fact more than 20% of students are suffering from issues with mental health.
While efforts are being made to combat this growing epidemic throughout universities the effectiveness of these efforts are debatable. With mental health issues continuing to rise universities must look for new ways to deal with the core social dilemmas they face. This could include an expansion of the pre-existing mental health services, closer ties to NHS facilities or new technology. This includes services such as online counselling and chat forums to minimise the effects of loneliness and homesickness.
It is undoubtable that certain elements of student lifestyles play a large part in the issues they face. With the high levels of alcohol and narcotics consumption (often for the first time) among students it comes as little surprise that many will struggle to cope with the university environment. The teaching of safe practice methods should be rolled out across all universities. Classes and seminars on how to deal with peer pressure and the substances should also be provided.
Freshers week is a great opportunity for universities to highlight and minimise the effects of intoxicants and other dangerous behaviour. This is something that universities are taking great effort to combat, especially those with campus settings where the problems are easier to confront. This can only be a positive thing.
Many issues facing the students of today including rising debt levels, mental health issues and substance abuse ,however, there are also many benefits and positives to be taken from the increasing level of young people deciding to pursue further education. While these are problems we all face as a society, we at cathartic hope that in the future university can be a place where these issues are solved rather than exacerbated. This can be done through a concerted effort to innovate and create modern solutions to ancient problems. Find out how we are attempting to advance this cause by clicking the link below.
If you are seeking to tackle mental health within your organisation click here to find out more SpeakOut
If you or a loved one are concerned regarding mental health visit the NHS