Today, Thursday 4 March, is University Mental Health Day 2021. This past year has been incredibly difficult for many in our University community. Now more than ever, it’s important that we inspire conversations surrounding mental health and create change.
Today is a day to raise awareness and tackle stigmas, and we’re sharing stories from our student community on how they’ve supported their mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic. We look at posts from some of our student bloggers, who have taken the time to share their experiences and advice, from counselling tips to loneliness and self-care.
Past and current lockdowns have proved to be difficult for many of us, especially our student community. Spending limited amount of time with friends and not being able to enjoy our normal routines and activities means that, for many, mental health has taken a hit.
Student blogger Caitlin Wallace recently published the piece ‘How I’m Staying Motivated and Positive During Lockdown’, where she lists some of the things that she has been doing to take care of her mental health. Caitlin says that setting aside a dedicated working area, finding time to go outside, listening to podcasts/reading a book, scheduling dates with friends and being involved in a society are some of the things she has been doing to stay positive.
Lizzie Bertelsen has also been looking for ways to take care of her mental health. In her piece ‘How to take care of your mental health during lockdown’, she writes:
“Many of us are stuck inside, with little to do and not a lot of possibilities. Especially since the first lockdown probably took most of the ideas we could think of to do inside (who else started to knit?) it’s hard to find new things to do. Which for me at least makes it hard to stay positive and not crawl under my blankets to stay all day. Not that we can’t do that once in a while, sometimes I think it’s also okay to just give into our emotions. But to do that every day can make this lockdown very hard and long.”
Lizzie writes about some of the things she does to stay focussed, and suggests writing a list of the things you plan to do:
“They might look nothing like what they did before corona or contain a lot, but having a structured week plan (especially during dissertation writing) really helps me stay focused while also making sure I have things to do. It might be things such as going for a walk, discovering a new part of Dundee or even cleaning the oven. (Let’s face it, we can’t keep coming up with excuses when we’re home all the time).”
Lockdown also means that many of us are spending a lot more time in our houses, flats, bedrooms and living rooms than we might have done previously. Looking after the spaces we live in is an important part of taking care of ourselves and can help us stay positive. Student blogger Kiah Edwards published the piece ‘Staying Happy in Your Space’, giving some tips to make your space a better place to spend your time. In the piece, Kiah writes:
“… as we all know from simply being human in 2020, we’ve begun to spend a lot more time in spaces such as our bedrooms, or just our homes in general, than we ever used to due to the pandemic. I’m hoping this blog post will give you some ideas on how to make your space a happy place to be despite being there 24/7!”
Kiah has also published pieces on self-care, giving her best tips of how to stay calm and positive and some ideas for a self-care day. Kiah writes:
“Sometimes we all have to take a day off and really care for ourselves. Whether you’ve just had a lot on your plate, or you’re struggling with some mental health issues, it is so important that we listen to our minds and bodies and take a day off when we can… I hope I can inspire some of you to have a self care day soon, and give you some ideas of what you can do to still be productive and hopefully make yourself feel at least a bit better!”
Loneliness is something many of us are suffering with. Coming to university can feel like a lonely time – a new place with new faces can be intimidating. The pandemic and restrictions have made this even more difficult to deal with, being apart from our loved ones and having limited in-person social contact with others. For student blogger Eleanor Scott, moving to Dundee was the first time she had been truly alone, away from her family and friendship group for the first time. In her blog post ‘Loneliness’, she writes:
“The disappointment of not being able to be the confident person I wanted to be had many effects on my mental health. I was sad and alone, and although I had a few good people in my life over that first year, I was on my own for the majority of it.
“It took me a long time to admit that what I was feeling wasn’t normal, and to seek help. And I’m so glad I did.”
Eleanor decided to seek counselling and explains it has helped on a personal level and has taught her a lot:
“Thanks to counselling, I now have a better understanding of why I am the way I am, and what I can do to help get on with my life.
“We all go through periods in our lives that are hard, and loneliness is something that can affect you even when you’re surrounded by others. But never give up, because I promise you, you will find your people, and, more importantly, you will find yourself.”
In another post, Eleanor shares some of the things she has learnt from counselling, in the hope that the pieces of advice will help others. You can read ‘Some Things I’ve Learnt from Counselling’ on the Student Blog.
Many of us are struggling at the moment and it’s incredibly important to share our experiences and speak with others. Let’s continue to inspire conversations and raise awareness of student mental health.
A list of the blogs mentioned above and more:
- Some Things I’ve Learnt from Counselling
- Small Self Care Tips
- How to take care of your mental health during lockdown
- How I’m Staying Motivated and Positive During Lockdown
- An Abstract Conversation about Mental Health
- Staying Happy in Your Space
- Self Care Day
- Dealing with Loneliness at Uni
The Counselling Service offers short-term counselling to current Dundee University students and staff.
We have a team of counsellors with a wide variety of backgrounds and experience, and our sessions are free.
Counselling provides a safe space for you to talk about your issues or concerns. Our sessions are friendly, supportive and confidential. It’s healthier to explore it with an experienced counsellor than bottle it up and never see an improvement. And if we can’t help you, we’ll let you know and we may also suggest other sources of help.
Self help resources
Visit the Student Services web page to find links and resources to help you with wellbeing, healthy living, personal development, student life and more.