Published: March 4, 2018
Thursday 1 March is officially known as University Mental Health Day. Everyone has mental health, but 1 in 4 of us will be affected by a mental health problem each year, according to Mind.
Higher education can be a challenging time – new friends, a new environment, new ways of learning and so much more. Once you’ve adjusted to university life, things can still get on top of you in your second and third year as a student as well as beyond. Pressures at home or work can add to the stress, loneliness and anxiety.
I withdrew from my degree in Social Work at the University of Sunderland and changed to my current course – BA (Hons) Journalism, after my mental health declined. From that, I learnt that it’s important to recognise when things are getting too much and to speak out. Remember that you aren’t alone – as the University offers a wealth of support to people facing mental health difficulties.
As a student, the University of Sunderland can help you in many ways. There are informal support networks in place such as the University of Sunderland Friends group on Facebook. The group, which now boasts more than 700 members, was set up in September 2016, to be a point-of-contact for students. The group, full of like-minded students, aims to be a peer-to-peer point-of-contact where you can ask questions about university life and be pointed in the right direction for support.
You can also access the support at the Students' Union, also known as the SU. This is a separate organisation from the University of Sunderland, which is run by students for students. The SU has a dedicated President for Wellbeing, who ensures students get the right support in many areas, including mental health. Other officers are also on hand, if you're looking for support and guidance on education or activities.
If you feel you need a little bit of extra support, the University also has a Wellbeing team. They can offer free and confidential counselling as well as access to online CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) in the form of Silvercloud, and can signpost you to the Disability Support Service, who can help if your mental health is getting in the way of your academic life. The Chaplaincy is also there to offer a listening ear.
The Library service can also support with work-related queries. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed with referencing, revising, reading critically and more.
Lecturers, personal tutors and support staff are also there if you need a helping hand during your time at the university – so don’t be afraid to speak up, after all at the University of Sunderland we are all one big commUNIty.