Mental health advice for students - by students

This University Mental Health Day, our student volunteers wanted to share with you their mental health advice and resources which help them to cope the pressure and stressors students face in their daily lives.

Putting in place support for yourself or a peer who may be struggling can be a daunting task. When trying to manage all of the aspects that come alongside academic and social life as a student, it can be difficult to know where to start.

As student volunteers we tried to break down this task into a timeline in order to help visualise practical tasks that may relieve some pressure or may help you towards building the start of a care plan.

We chose to visualise it through the time span of 1 hour, 1 day and 1 week, but you can of course lay your plan out however works best for you or someone you are supporting.

There are many helplines and support services available if you need. Support in Mind Scotland is one service that can help redirect you or provide support for some of the many pressures students can face. 

 

Short Term - 1 hour

  • Contact someone you trust, or if you would rather speak to someone anonymously there are a range of hotlines/information services available to contact over the phone call or text (as listed below - see resources)
  • If you can, take yourself to a space you feel comfortable, whether that’s meeting friends or watching a comfort series or film
  • Having a shower or doing a cold water face wash may help to feel refreshed
  • Find an immediate distraction to help provide a moment of relief, such as listening to your favourite song or watching an episode of a series you enjoy
  • Go outside and connect to your senses – look out for things you can hear, smell, touch and taste.
  • Slow movements, stretching and deep breaths can relieve stress from the body which helps our mind feel better too (there are lots of great tips on Youtube).

 

Medium Term - 1 Day 

  • Services such as the Mental Health Assessment Service (0131 286 8137) allow you to speak directly to a mental health nurse if you or someone you know needs medical support
  • Brain Dump - uncritically expressing (e.g. writing) your own thoughts and ideas 
  • Go for a short walk, find space to meditate or reflect (www.edinburghguide.com/parks)
  • Try and make sure your body has the correct fuel (cup of tea, glass of water, satisfying snack) and if you can, find space to rest and process 

 

Long Term - 1 Week

  • Daily Mood Tracker / Thought Diary - where have you felt comfortable this week, are you able to identify what has exacerbated/worsened stressors this week?
  • Ensure you have access to the correct medication/prescriptions for the upcoming weeks. If you need support collecting prescriptions due to isolation you can contact the national assistance helpline: 0800 111 4000
  • Ask for help: Contact your university/school if you need to apply for any extension to alleviate some academic pressure
  • Plan in some time to do something restful for yourself. Whether that be listening to music, meeting friends or taking yourself out for the day.



Resources

To call and speak to someone directly for advice and information:

  • Support in Mind Scotland: call 0300 323 1545, or email [email protected] - open Monday - Friday, 9am - 4:30pm
  • Breathing Space: call  0800 83 85 87

To speak directly to a mental health nurse:

  • Mental Health Assessment Service: 0131 286 8137

 

To message/text rather than call:

  • Student Space - text ‘STUDENT’ to 85258 to start a conversation 24hrs a day
  • Support in Mind Scotland: message on social media @suppinmindscot

 

To chat online: 

    • Confidential safe space to online talk - togetherall.com/en-gb/ (free for most University Students)

 

To boost your Wellbeing: 

    • Practical Tips related to specific topics: visit ithriveedinburgh.org.uk - navigate to “Self Help” for topics



Some common student stressors

Financial concerns:

  • Support in Mind Scotland offers an advice service for financial support for issues such as rent payment, statutory sick pay and zero-hour contracts

 

Social isolation/pressures:

    • Organisations such as Project Awesome offer a free fitness initiative which could be a way to meet new people and get outside and active – visit their Facebook page for more information regarding times and location: https://www.facebook.com/projectawesomeedinburgh/
    • Joining societies may be a way to meet people with similar interests or find study groups so you don’t have to work alone

 

Relationship issues:

  • If you are experiencing abuse you can call the Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline to talk about options for support: ​​0800 027 1234

 

Deadlines/academic pressures:

    • If you feel comfortable, you can talk to your personal or academic tutor at university about options for support
    • You can apply for extensions to give yourself some more time and alleviate deadline pressure

 

COVID anxieties:

  • If you need help collecting prescriptions due to isolation you can contact the national assistance helpline: 0800 111 4000
  • You can also apply for financial grants if you live in Scotland and your isolation has resulted in a loss of income: https://www.mygov.scot/self-isolation-grant

 

Mature students - how to balance work/life - e.g. parenting, job roles and academic life:

    • One way of alleviating some pressure is through applying via SAAS for the Discretionary Fund or Childcare Funds if your education is impacted from financial stressors

 

Alcohol/drug use:

    • You can call Drinkline for information or advice if you are worried about yourself or someone else regarding substance use: 0800 731 4314 

 

Harassment and discrimination:

    • Rape Crisis Scotland offers confidential short-term, crisis and initial support:

Call: 08088 01 03 02 

Text: 07537 410 027 

E-Mail: [email protected]

  • Victim Support Scotland offers a live chat and phone call service to anyone who has been a victim of any crime, such as domestic abuse or hate crime: Call: 0800 160 1985

Live chat: https://victimsupport.scot/information-support/coronavirus/