Mental Illness at University

Ways to cope with a mental illness whilst at university from someone who has been there!

No matter what happens.

No matter how hard things get.

No matter who tries to bring you down.

Never stop believing in yourself!


Suffering with a mental illness at any point during your life if hard, but this can be amplified whilst studying at university. From the work load, to meeting new people, to financial struggles; all of these can have a major impact on your mental health. Statistics show that 1 in four students suffer from a mental illness.

There are many forms of mental illness’s with depression and anxiety being the most common between students. After doing some of my own research I found that more people suffer in silence instead of asking out for help. This could partly be due to the stigma that surrounds mental health.

People Understand!

 Personally, it took me some time to speak to people about my mental health issues, but when I did I found that a lot of people are understanding and supportive. Not only did my course tutor offer me a lot of help and support but the people in my group where all very understanding. If you are suffering, do not be afraid to ask for help.

Many people do suffer and in my own research I found that a high majority of people who took my survey suffer with a mental illness and over 60% know someone who has one. Mental illnesses are so common however they can make you feel so alone! So don’t be afraid to speak to a friend as they will more than likely understand and will be there for you!

Let Your Tutor Know!

At points, my life can have more drama in it than an episode of Eastenders! This has always put my off going to my tutors to ask for support and help because i feel like they may think i’m being a drama queen! However i found this year that tutors are really understanding and will offer the help needed!

By letting your tutor, or course leader know that you have stuff going on, they will be more understanding of the bad days. Like I said before my tutor has been really understanding and helped in anyway she can; hopefully yours will be as well!

Get Professional Help (I struggled with this!)

I have suffered with depression and anxiety since i was at secondary school and it wasn’t until early this year that i went to the doctors. I found it so hard because it felt like i was admitting defeat and it meant that them issues became real. I thought that my doctor wouldn’t believe me and i thought that i would be ridiculed!

But it was one of the best things i ever did. And it was hard, sitting there explaining how low i felt, but my doctor listen to me and gave me the help i needed. I am now on antidepressants and seeing a councilor.

Anyone can give you help and support, but by seeing a professional, they can give you the support that you need! Unfortunately, of the people who took my survey and suffer from a mental illness, 50% do not receive any professional help or support for their illnesses.

Have a Plan!

Ensure that you have a ‘safety’ plan set out to ensure that you can put yourself in a safe place if you have any issues whilst at university. This plan could include things like making a trusted person on your course aware of your situation and alerting them if there is an issue. Also ensure that you have something on you at all times that can be a distraction from the chaos that can be university life!

Personally i have a note book that i call my ‘crisis book’. I write in it when im having a good day with things that make me smile so that on my bad days i can read through it in an attempt to life myself back up. This has helped me a lot during my time at university as it has given me a chance to break away from the world when needed to.


Above all else, do not forget that your health, mental and physical, is so important! Your tutors and friends will understand when you are having bad days, so do not put pressure on yourself to constantly be happy! I have spent many times stood crying on my friends just because im having ‘one of them days’. But its fine because they understand!

Please remember;

you are so loved

and you are so needed


If you know of anyone suffering or are suffering yourself, please do not suffer in silence! Ask for help!


Directly taken from the NHS website.

Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at

PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.

Depression Alliance is a charity for people with depression. It doesn’t have a helpline, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information.

Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts.

Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying.

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is an excellent resource for young men who are feeling unhappy. As well as their website, CALM also has a helpline (0800 58 58 58).

Appendix- Online Questionnaire

Do you suffer from a mental illness?

Choice Responses Percentage
Yes 6 35.29%
No (please go to question 5) 9 52.94%
Prefer not to say 2 11.76%

What mental illness do you suffer with? (Pick all that are relevant)

Answer choice response percentage
Depression 5 50.00%
Anxiety 2 20.00%
OCD 1 10.00%
Bipolar 0 0.00%
Prefer not to say 2 20.00%
Other (please specify) 0 0.00%

Do you receive any help for this mental illness?

Answer choice response percentage
Yes 3 30.00%
No 5 50.00%
Prefer not to say 2 20.00%

Have you spoken to anyone at your university about this?

Answer Choice Responses Percentage
Yes 5 50.00%
No 3 30.00%
Prefer not to say 2 20.00%

Do you know of any one on your course who suffer from a mental illness?

Answer Choice Responses Percentage
Yes 8 47.06%
No 7 41.18%
Prefer not to say 2 11.76%

What can be done to help those suffering with a mental illness?

  • Giving them verbal support and being a good listener when they need it
  • Talk
  • Prefer not to say
  • Not sure
  • Support them and give extra time for uni work
  • Providing support groups
  • More understanding
  • Non judgemental support within academics, so people can go to academic tutors and be honest about their condition without fear of repercussions.
  • It starts with support from family and friends. From personal experience, tell others how you feel; when you accept and recognise that there are serious issues, the correct steps will be take. For me, I had counselling and pushed comfort boundaries.
  • Training of Uni Staff to understand and recognise when help or support may be needed. Counselling is available, but only if asked for. Minimising pressure for those who suffer with anxiety.
  • Authorities and people in general being more open about mental illness
  • Extra time and patience
  • Make it less scary, by giving an easy n clear way to bring it up and talk about it n help us understand it
  • Treat them as if they are no different from yourself, don’t be patronising for example


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