Have you experienced mental health issues whilst at University? Watch

Poll: Have you experienced mental health issues whilst at University?
Yes (187)
55.16%
No (63)
18.58%
No, but I know someone who has (89)
26.25%
StrawberryDreams
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Have you experienced mental health issues whilst at University?


Perhaps it was something about your university experience that brought on symptoms, or you started university whilst managing existing mental health issues - we want to hear about your experiences with mental health whilst studying. If you're experiencing them now and are not sure of where to turn, we want you to share you voice and talk about them. We have a Q&A session happening on TSR on the 7th of March where you can ask questions and talk about your experiences, with young suicide prevention charity PAPYRUS supporting.


If you have experienced any mental health issues, how do you managed them? If you haven't experienced any yourself but you know friends struggling, how have you supported them?
Let us know below





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CoolCavy
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Yes currently. Uni didn't cause it had it before but wasn't diagnosed. Is hard to balance everything though
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Leviathan1741
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Yes, I was dealing with them prior to university though (since secondary school actually). Despite being on antidepressants, I found the first year of university to a be particularly bad period for me mental health-wise. Thankfully, I had a specialist mentor to keep an eye on me and help me out. My mentor has always emphasised the importance of doing what's best for me, for example, not being afraid to take a break from studying to get my thoughts back together. She also helps me to put things in perspective, and to break down the work to make it feel less overwhelming. Lately I've been visualising my workload (and the journey to the end of uni in a couple of months) as a mountain: the mountain never gets taller, but whenever I get a piece of work done, I climb a bit higher towards the top. It might sound silly, but I like that idea
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StrawberryDreams
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(Original post by CoolCavy)
Yes currently. Uni didn't cause it had it before but wasn't diagnosed. Is hard to balance everything though
I can imagine it's really hard to balance - there must be plenty of readjusting happening to cope with some of the stresses of University, it has to be so tough at times.

From your perspective, have you found anything that helps you with balancing your life when experiencing mental health issues?
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StrawberryDreams
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(Original post by Leviathan1741)
Yes, I was dealing with them prior to university though (since secondary school actually). Despite being on antidepressants, I found the first year of university to a be particularly bad period for me mental health-wise. Thankfully, I had a specialist mentor to keep an eye on me and help me out. My mentor has always emphasised the importance of doing what's best for me, for example, not being afraid to take a break from studying to get my thoughts back together. She also helps me to put things in perspective, and to break down the work to make it feel less overwhelming. Lately I've been visualising my workload (and the journey to the end of uni in a couple of months) as a mountain: the mountain never gets taller, but whenever I get a piece of work done, I climb a bit higher towards the top. It might sound silly, but I like that idea
Thank you for sharing

Having a specialist mentor sounds like it was such a help for you - was this something the University provided, or did you find them outside of the University environment?

She sounds like a fantastic mentor - what a brilliant visualisation to use as well, when things get overwhelming with workload it's always hard to remember that there is an end in sight, and you're working your way towards it. Thank you for sharing
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NotNotBatman
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(I don't think anything I've written needs a warning, but if a mod believes so, I'm happy for one to edit the post).

Yes, which I experienced for years before uni, but only seeked professional help a few months before uni started. I take advantage of services available, take antidepressants, but as I haven't had a lot of benefit (although not none at all) from these; I can't manage it. My grades have suffered because of it, but MH prevents me from explaining this to anyone and I just lie in bed all day at times. I am considering temporarily dropping out, which is a way of managing it (but probably won't happen).
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Leviathan1741
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(Original post by StrawberryDreams)
Thank you for sharing

Having a specialist mentor sounds like it was such a help for you - was this something the University provided, or did you find them outside of the University environment?

She sounds like a fantastic mentor - what a brilliant visualisation to use as well, when things get overwhelming with workload it's always hard to remember that there is an end in sight, and you're working your way towards it. Thank you for sharing
No problem My mentor is provided through the university, primarily for disability support (she specialises in supporting students on the autistic spectrum like myself). I didn't get on very well with my first mentor who didn't really understand me, so I've been very lucky in being able to switch to her
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Almost certainly, although i've never sought help for it. My mother has suffered with depression since I was a child, even attempting to take her life a couple of times, so I know the symptoms. I just kind of power through it so as to not cause any more problems for her... but it can be frustrating at times, and i've even found myself getting angry at her at times for seemingly being unaware of how her actions may have affected me growing up. But I always feel bad later, as I get that it's not her fault. I was only about 9 years old when she first attempted suicide, and there were many more rough times in the years after that. My parents divorced, and I grew up with just my mother and younger sister, so when my mother was struggling there was nobody else in the house to help out. I've never been close with my Dad, he didn't bother to see us much, and I haven't seen him for over 3 years now. My grandparents did their best I guess, although didn't see the worst of it, and they both died a few years ago which resulted in my mother struggling again.

As a result of my upbringing i've always been quite independent. I've paid my own way since I was old enough to get a job, and despite very little support from anybody with my education, i'm now studying at a Russell Group university. That mentality has also stopped me from seeking any help for my mental health. I don't like asking people for help. I just want to do my best and succeed, have a normal life and normal education like my friends, you know? But it is difficult at times, i'll admit that. I spend a lot of time alone, struggle to form real friendships with new people, etc., and that can get to me sometimes. When i'm feeling good, I'm actually quite confident and talkative. I get on with people... but there are many more days when I can barely get myself out of bed, and skip any social occasion that comes up. I can go days without really leaving my flat. I struggle sleeping, often only getting about 4 hours, and I also don't eat some days. But... I get good grades, a 1st in first year and similar grades so far this year. It can be difficult to motivate myself though. I prefer not to go to class and to study alone instead, which I don't think my tutors are very keen on. I keep my attendance respectable though in classes where attendance is recorded.

Whilst I was in first year, it was the day before an assignment hand-in worth 50% of one of my classes, and I was less than half-way through and looking at an all-nighter. That evening my mother had drank a lot and intentionally overdosed on her medication. I had to stop her, and call an ambulance and stuff. She'd already swallowed a lot but I dug a handful of pills out of her mouth. It was about 5am by the time everything was okay and I got home. I had to knock out the rest of my assignment in a few hours before the 11am deadline. I got 54%, which wasn't bad I guess considering, but it was one of my worst assignment grades to date. I probably should have been upset, but I was honestly so angry after the initial shock had subsided. Although, I did go with her to a doctor the following day despite not having slept. I do want to support her. I think the anger stems from the feeling that i've had to get to where I am on my own, whilst battling my own issues, but even now there are still things working against me. Some of my friends parents have supported me more than my own in the past, taking me to university open days, asking about my grades etc. and when I was younger that would sometimes leave me feeling quite bitter towards my parents.

My girlfriend is probably the one reason that I remain motivated, in both work and education. She's the person I feel most comfortable with. She's the only person i've ever spoken to about my family problems, although, i've never discussed my own mental health with her. We met whilst I was living abroad before I came to university, so for 2 years now we've been long distance, spending just summers and Christmases together. But our daily phone calls are one of the better parts of my day. We just got our own place together a couple of months ago, and although I can't live there permanently for now, knowing that i'll visit her in a couple of months and then go back over there permanently after graduation is the one thing keeping me going I think. I try my best to achieve good grades because I like to make her proud. If I didn't have anybody to speak to, there's a strong chance that I may have dropped out by now. I did the same when I was 19 (i'm a 'mature' student now. In my mid-20's). I'm not sure i'll ever seek help now, since i'm over half-way through uni now. I'm always happy when i'm with my girlfriend, so i'm kind of just holding out hope that i'll feel better once we're living together permanently.

Apologies for it getting so long. I was venting a little, haha.
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sinfonietta
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Yes. I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression in Honours year of my first degree. I couldn't cope with the coursework or even being in a classroom environment - breaking down in a group setting after getting feedback on my dissertation (which, for the record, was actually quite positive!); and on another occasion being taken out of class by a different lecturer for a talk over a cup of tea because he could just tell that something was wrong. He was a great lecturer honestly - he informed a third person and it was thanks to him I had a 15 minute presentation changed into a 3,500 word report. I cried negotiating with that lecturer too... that was humiliating. I took medical leave based on my doctor (who I visited on advice of the person overseeing my dissertation) and lecturers advice and never went back. I was put on medication (took myself off it against doctors advice) and briefly attended therapy but that was a bust after I was told my reasons for why I hadn't yet commit suicide weren't "good enough". After moving back in with my parents that summer I realised I had to make any necessary changes myself. Instead come August that year I withdrew from my degree (still graduated with an ordinary degree) and started a HNC in a different subject area.

Now I'm third year of a second degree and mental health is starting to really get in the way of everyday life again. I mean, the problem never really went away, but I have found methods of coping with it. Although it's a different now than before. I know that the problem isn't university - it's an identity issue I'm struggling with right now that's causing a lack of motivation. I needed an extension on an essay due last week, and when my lecturer asked the reason I just completely shied away from telling her what was wrong. I'm lucky that she followed-up a few days later and gave me the benefit of the doubt and gave me extra time without me needing to explicitly tell her what was wrong - because it's still not finished yet. Although she did say that she's there if I need to talk about it. Which I may need to do at some point, but right now the embarrassment of talking about it isn't worth it.
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The_Lonely_Goatherd
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I've been hearing voices since I was 5 (though I don't consider that to have been a mental health issue per se) but before I went to uni, I'd only experience mild depression, mild paranoia and mild social anxiety.

Things really escalated quite badly when I went to Oxford - within about two weeks of starting there, I became quite suicidal It was not a conducive environment for my mental health and things got slowly but surely worse. In my final year, the voices started morphing from benign to psychotic, and I had a massive psychotic breakdown six months before I was due to finish my Finals. The "help" I was offered by Oxford made things a thousand times worse. I really don't have anything good to say about their mental health provisions, and I know I'm not the only one who suffered due to their "help" either That said, I appreciate not everyone comes out (as) damaged, as I did...

After Oxford, I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder (which is like a crude and fun (not) combination of schizophrenia and bipolar) in October 2011. My mental health has continued to dominate my time at uni (did a Masters and now halfway through a PhD), to the extent that I don't remember my MA degree at all, and I had to do a retrospective interruption of 12 months for my PhD. My symptoms are still very active but thankfully the help and support I get now is a lot better than the "help" at Oxford was :yes: So things are more manageable
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CoolCavy
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(Original post by StrawberryDreams)
I can imagine it's really hard to balance - there must be plenty of readjusting happening to cope with some of the stresses of University, it has to be so tough at times.

From your perspective, have you found anything that helps you with balancing your life when experiencing mental health issues?
Yeh it's pretty hard (without blowing smoke up my arse lol). Being borderline i bounce all over the place which really affects my productivity and attendance which is also hard because i get paranoid people think im faking my it since people dont know my exact diagnosis inrl, apart from my tutors and even they dont really understand it since apparently google is not a thing, as i can go from being fine to being in crisis in a matter of hours so i get worried people think well you were fine yesterday.
I end up being behind on a lot of stuff cos my **** days/hours eat up a lot of time and then i feel really guilty when i need an extension and my tutors are kind of guilt tripping me for it atm :/
Being away from my parent is hard because i need sort of constant validation that people still love me so not seeing them means that i begin to doubt if they still actually love me and that can push me into crisis.

I have a mentor which is really helpful from DSA and we meet once a week to go through work and any personal stuff. I also see my GP pretty frequently on his orders and he helps keep an eye on me and stuff.
I have a hamster in my uni room. I am not allowed one but i have one anyway because i dont think i would be able to survive otherwise. I really miss my guinea pigs at home and so i brought my hamster sebastian as some company. He is really helpful and because he is nocturnal he is awake at my most difficult times and i love him a lot.

TW suicide
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I had past suicide attempts in first year and self harm got quite out of control. Something needed to change and that was my hamster. He has really helped keep me safe
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CoolCavy
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(Original post by Leviathan1741)
I didn't get on very well with my first mentor who didn't really understand me, so I've been very lucky in being able to switch to her
Same story here :yes: my first mentor told me that i didnt look like i had bpd (did she want me to stagger in with vodka bottles or something whilst injecting drugs lol) so that was her jettisoned. This year's mentor is much better
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Pathway
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I've had mental health issues since I was a kid (~age 4) and have been diagnosed with complex PTSD, anorexia nervosa, enduring personality changes after catastrophic experiences, depression and generalised anxiety disorder. All of these issues affect me pretty severely and have done since I was little.

All of them combined (along with physical health issues (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and comorbid problems) and personal issues (e.g. my best friend killing herself and my mum getting cancer) almost caused me to drop out in my final year. However, at unviersity I had a lot of input. I was under a specialist mental health team (SMHT) for people that have history of severe complex trauma with complex presentations, had access to a specialist mental health mentor provided by DSA, had an extended amount of counselling before starting specialist therapy with my old SMHT and had a disability support worker - she was primarily for my physical health issues, but also helped with issues related to my mental health. My GP at university was outstanding as well. I owe my degree to them tbh. I graduated with a first class in psychology despite everything that was going on.
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Anonymous #2
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not sure how useful the poll is when naturally most people who click on this thread are those who have experienced mh problems
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Anonymous #2
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and even people who haven't who still click on this thread are unlikely to even click no because it's 'mainstream' and 'uninteresting' (not necessarily their conscious thoughts but at least subconscious)
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-Eirlys-
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I had severe anxiety a couple of years ago and it alleviated with medication. Anxiety runs in my family and I'm starting to get symptoms again, likely caused by the stress of university. I seem to feel stressed every month. :lol: I am studying mental health ironically and I know that stress can alter the brain and lead to depression/anxiety which would explain why it's cropping up again, as well as it being genetic and my brain is likely predisposed to anxiety.

I have had a tough time at home, have an unbelievably ridiculous assignment and my tutor was being an unhelpful ****. I had to deal with contacting student support and getting a new tutor which I'm glad has happened. I've had to ask for an extension because I can't get my head around my assignment.

I am very sensitive to stress unfortunately and it affects every aspect of my life, including my new relationship. I become distant and withdrawn and have an inability to feel any real emotion. I know I'm stressed but I don't know how to reduce it without getting on with my assignment, but when I'm not feeling too great, that's hard to do. I'm not in good health either and stress makes my health conditions worse so I have to deal with physical issues too. The last three days, I've been dealing with a migraine like headache which seems to be zapping all of my energy. Coupled with stress, it feels impossible to focus on my assignment.

With my anxiety, I can recognise that I'm being anxious/paranoid but I can't help it which is frustrating. It's showing itself more in my new relationship and I'm worried it's going to negatively impact it. It's not like 'he's going to cheat on me', it's more like I'm worried that I'm not good enough or he's getting fed up of me. I'm always asking him if he's still happy with me and I read into everything he does and think it's a negative sign. It doesn't help that he's a very chill person and I'm on the other end of that spectrum! :lol: It seems when he shows/says explicitly that he cares for me, that gives me a huge boost and reassurance. That's the thing, I need reassurance up to a point otherwise I overthink everything. I try my best to communicate with him because he usually gives me a logical reason for why something happened and that eases my mind. I wouldn't want to jump to a conclusion, believe it and take it out on him! I think I'll be seeing a doctor again soon and to ask for meds again. :\
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