21 September 2018

Students urged to look after their mental health

Look after your mental health - that's the message to students arriving to study in the Bristol and Bath area this month.

Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP) is raising awareness of good mental health amongst students who have left home for the first time, who may have travelled from overseas to study here or who may be returning to their studies for second and final years.

Director of Nursing for AWP, Julie Kerry, said: "Leaving home for the first time, a new place to live, managing study and finances can all be quite daunting. We want to make sure that students look after their mental health, know how to spot the signs when something is wrong and know what to do.

"It's OK not to be OK and we want to encourage anyone who is struggling with their mental health to talk to someone about it. There is lots of support out there for students who may need to talk. Also, if you're worried about a friend who may be behaving differently or out of character, encourage them to seek help.

"We also want students with pre-existing mental health problems to make sure they get the help and support they need from their university's welfare team, personal tutors and GPs. They will be able to provide information about additional help like extra time to complete work and counselling services."

Top tips for students:

• Register with a GP
• Get plenty of sleep
• Eat proper meals rather than snacking
• Don't drink too much
• Take regular exercise
• Recognise the signs of poor mental health - confused thinking, prolonged low mood, feelings of extreme highs and lows, excessive fears worries and anxieties, social withdrawal, dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits, strange thoughts (delusions) and strong feelings of anger
• Seek help from your GP or the university's welfare services
• If you have a pre-existing mental health problem nominate a parent or guardian the university can talk to if necessary, ask for your notes to be transferred to your new GP and contact the university's mental health adviser who will be able to co-ordinate support for you
• If you need to talk call the Samaritans on 116 123 or Papyrus on 0800 068 4141
• If you're worried about a fellow student, flat mate or friend, try to encourage them to talk and to seek help

Eight ways to look after yourself at university
• You won't necessarily make friends in the first week. Look out for student societies and activities where you'll meet like-minded people.
• If you're struggling with friendships, or pressures of work, or missing home, speak to your university's student support services - they will have wellbeing advisers who can help you.
• If your university has mental health advisers, they will be able to help you with practical things like arranging extensions for coursework.
• Talk to other people about how you're feeling, including friends and personal tutors - don't bottle it all up. Ask your friends, too, how they're feeling. A culture of openness about mental health is important.
• You don't have to spend all your time at university. There's no harm in going home at weekends if you're missing your family.
• Self-care is important. Make sure you're getting enough sleep and eating proper meals, rather than snacking or relying on takeaways - and don't drink too much.
• If you have an existing mental health condition, disclose it before you start, so your university can prepare to offer you the support you need. You may also qualify for a disabled student allowance.
• If you think you have a serious mental health problem, go to your GP as soon as you can - don't hope it will just go away.

If you need to talk to someone the Samaritans can be contacted in the UK on 116 123 or by emailing jo@samaritans.org. You can contact the mental health charity Mind by calling 0300 123 3393 or visiting mind.org.uk. Papyrus are available to talk to on 0800 068 4141.

For more information on good mental health and tips and advice visit www.awp.nhs.uk , find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AWPNHS

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