By Anwen Williams
If you’re having difficulties with anxiety or mental health, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. The number of students declaring a mental health problem has doubled in the last 5 years, to at least 115,000 (and this is only the declared). It’s also important to understand that you don’t have to have suffered from depression or a mental health issue over a long period of time to be someone that suffers with anxiety. It’s known that even students who show no symptoms before starting university are troubled by a significant level of anxiety by their second year.
Anxiety is the feeling of fear and panic, and can cause your body to jump to the ‘fight or flight’ mode. While many people feel panicky and anxious in difficult situations, once the situation is over the person feels calmed and relieved of this anxiety. However this is not always the case, and for some people these feelings of fear and anxiety continue after the difficult situation, and you may even feel a stronger sense of fear than others. This is when anxiety can really become a problem and interfere with your day to day life.
Anxiety causes levels of adrenaline to rise along with the sympathetic nervous system, which controls automatic activities, like breathing – and then takes over. Students suffering with anxiety may feel extreme difficulty in university in terms of learning, as if you suffer from anxiety, it’s likely that even if you’re taking the information in – you’re not processing or storing it properly.
When it comes to dealing with anxiety – there’s loads of help out there. If you feel overwhelmed by any issue or even that it’s affecting your life or studies in any way, it’s always a good idea to discuss this with your GP. Your GP can discuss your options with you, provide you with great resources to for self-help, and provide you with anything you may need. Your GP is there to help and will remind you that you’re one of a huge number of people dealing with anxiety issues.
The university offers counselling and wellbeing appointments in person, over the phone, or even through webcam, instant messaging or email. They also provide a daily walk-in service that you can attend without making an appointment, where someone will spend 15 minutes giving you advice about the different services they offer, or selecting some self-help materials you can take away with you. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org during office hours.
The NHS offer free courses that offer classes that are aimed towards stress control, mindfulness, groups for anxiety and depression, controlling panics and sleep problems, learning about stress, controlling your thoughts and actions, and so on. Further information on these groups can be found on www.stepiau.org.
Lastly, be kind to yourself. It’s easy to become your own worst enemy, especially if you’re comparing yourself to others. Accept that things are tough right now, don’t compare yourself to anyone else – and think about how you can work with your brain to make things happen.