Sensitive content: This article contains references to mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, bipolar, OCD, eating disorders, PTSD, psychosis, schizophrenia, self-harm and suicide.
Reports have shown that around one in four students experience mental health issues while at university. With tuition fees higher than ever, insufficient Maintenance Loans and the pressure to succeed, students are under more stress than ever before.
We’ve spoken to hundreds of students who have experienced mental health issues as a result of the financial strain they’re put under at university, and we want you all to know you’re not alone.
While most students know that support is out there, it can be difficult to know where to turn, or what to expect if you do. Here’s everything you need to know, all in one place.
Everyone has mental health. It determines how we feel about ourselves, the way we interact with those around us and form relationships, and how we overcome the challenges life throws our way.
However, when mental health starts to interfere with everyday life and our abilities to relax, socialise and work effectively, it becomes a mental health issue.
Mental health is affected by biological factors and family history, as well as life experiences such as stress and trauma. Just like any physical issue, it should be treated by a medical professional when something isn’t right.
Difference between mental health and mental illness
The terms ‘mental health’ and ‘mental illness’ often get used interchangeably, but they actually mean slightly different things.
Regardless of whether you think you may have a mental illness or a mental health issue, if you are finding things difficult, please seek help.
It can, however, help you to understand the way you’re feeling and the types of support you may get offered, to know the difference between what is generally meant by mental health and mental illness.
As we mentioned above, mental health refers to our general mental wellbeing, like how we’re feeling emotionally, psychologically and socially. We all have mental health, and it’s common to experience issues with our wellbeing from time to time.
Mental illnesses are clinically diagnosable conditions like anxiety, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia and eating disorders. You may experience poor mental health without necessarily having a diagnosable mental illness.
For example, if you’re feeling low or anxious, it’s still important to talk about how you’re feeling, but it’s worth bearing in mind that you may not be diagnosed as having depression or anxiety as mental illnesses.
This in no way discredits how you’re feeling – it may just be that a doctor, counsellor or anyone else you talk to could take a slightly different approach to how they help you, depending on the level and type of support you need.