Student Mental Health

Student Mental Health
I’m Rayna and a recent Psychology graduate. Today I sit here writing this short piece with the hope of just reaching out to at least one person. I know that growing up I never really heard others talking about mental health, or even voicing themselves. However, now that the global culture is shifting more towards social media, this has given numerous individuals the platform to be able to discuss their experiences, and I feel like I just wanted to do the same.

Why student mental health matters

When we are students, we are in what is arguably one of the most delicate stages of our lives. It is the time where we are only beginning to grow into critical thinkers, as well as seek where we stand in the world as unique individuals. Try mixing that with the other pressures such as coursework deadlines and exams, and I would say that we have already set ourselves up for a recipe of accumulated mental baggage. I know it’s really easy to dismiss the experiences of the younger generation, as we haven’t even lived half our lives yet so what hardships have we faced, right?

Just that one question shows how unknown we are to what constitutes mental health, how anyone can experience challenges and how simple it is to disregard what others may be going through.  

Your experiences aren’t invalid

Just because you may have not much experience of the world does not mean that you can’t suffer with poor mental health. I myself for the longest time went to school every day thinking that it was normal to feel the way that I did. It is only now when I spoke to my parents/friends about what I went through, and that I introspect back to that time do I realise how much I dismissed my own emotions. My body was in a constant fight or flight mode throughout the day, and I am not exaggerating when I say constantly, throughout the day. I used to come home being so mentally exhausted from the day and my health just started to deteriorate even more over the years, especially during sixth form when I experienced my first panic attack and university.

The point being is that I made the mistake of not having opened up to the people closest to me at the time, which probably could have prevented me from spiralling into a downwards disaster. Don’t let anyone belittle what you are going through and how you feel. If something evokes an emotion of negativity within you, then clearly it’s happened for a reason. No one has the right to tell you that you’re just being “overly sensitive” or just “overthinking” things. I feel that nothing annoys me more than anyone says “just don’t stress”. I wish it were that easy, so just be aware that it is really not helpful advice.

Seeking Help

If you are aware that your emotions and thoughts are getting to the point of overwhelming you, then definitely seek for some form of support. I know it's easier said than done, but our greatest strength lies in our ability to open up. Reach out to helplines, organisations, or counsellors at your schools and universities. Nothing makes our hearts feel lighter than just unravelling our thoughts to someone who is willing to listen and help. Even if the first step is simply reaching out to a trusted family member/family/relative. Let people know you feel the way you do so that they can do their best to support you and know the reasons why you may not want to go out all the time or even text.

Tips: what worked for me and may work for you

Try indulging in hobbies you enjoy doing. I know watching movies, listening to music on vinyl and reading about history/spirituality really grounds me. In pursuing daily pastimes, you’ll be able to catch the beauty of life in these moments you take to yourself. Going to the Gurdwara also definitely helps me a lot, or listening to Kirtan Sohila before I go to sleep. Lastly, take out that time for yourself. It’s okay to say no to going out all the time, and to focus on yourself, ‘be selfish’.

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