How Bournemouth Uni helped me to deal with my mental health
No amount of ‘it gets better’s really change anything
You can scan a broken arm, but mental health isn’t as easy as that. Being a student comes with some added stress, so walking into the doctors may feel silly to just describe something you consider nothing more than your day to day struggles, but it’s actually really quite important. With it being Time To Talk day, telling my own experience might show you things can improve.
— Time to Change (@TimetoChange) February 2, 2017
When I first walked into the medical centre, I was fearful. How do you explain to a stranger something that’s affected you for years, but you still can’t put your finger on it? I was shaking, restless and really just wanted to walk out. I felt like a timewaster. These people have enough to deal with, why should I add to that?
It’s that first step which is the hardest, and is the reason why so many of us don’t seek help, even though in our gut we know we need to. Mountains of work aren’t helping either, and a demanding social life weighed me down so much that I felt guilty not speaking to people on a daily basis or going on a night out, but I really didn’t feel like I could. Every day was draining and even eating a meal was a chore. I’d tell myself that university was supposed to be stressful, and you wouldn’t really be a student without being on the verge of a breakdown, right?
The thing about University is they don’t keep tabs on you. You have to seek your own help, and that’s just another obstacle in the way of you getting better. So you tell yourself you are “managing” instead.
When I did eventually decide that enough was enough, I was surprised at the options I had to help me. Why had no one told me about these before? BU offers counselling, ALS which takes your studying into account, cognitive behavioural therapy services and even a therapy dog (Jack the shih tzu). I wish I knew all this sooner, and I wished the Uni had told all students, not just the ones who had reached the point that they had no other option than to find help.
And there’s places they can guide you to if you need a little more than what the uni can offer. St Anns, the local mental health hospital, is fighting mental health head on with more beds and self referral retreats, adding to the places we can turn. Steps 2 Wellbeing can give you personalised help depending on your needs, and door to door help is there if you need it through CMHTs.
One simple but effective tool I used to help me during the wait for these services was a handy little self help kit. Complete with various bits like a calming spray, a colouring book and tips for mindfullness, when I’d be having a bad day this box could give me everything and more to make me feel even the slightest bit better.
BU also has this fantastic service where you can walk in to the wellbeing centre (above the doctor’s surgery) and just talk to someone. No appointment needed. It sounds basic, but it works. Just letting things out when you have no other options is soothing, and something we all need, even if we don’t know it.
These services are there, we just need to notice them. No one asks for mental health problems, but they catch us out. That’s why the Uni has these places, and they will always do their best to support us. We need to talk honestly and openly about mental health, and we shouldn’t be afraid. That way student’s won’t suffer in silence.
You’re definitely not alone, and you can do this.
Here’s a piece we did with some helpful links about finding help.