THE BLOG
06/12/2013 10:44 GMT | Updated 03/02/2014 05:59 GMT

Mental Health and University: Do They Mix?

There's a common misconception that people with mental health do nothing all day except mope around their houses. Admittedly some people do exactly that, however not everyone does! Many use their illness as an excuse to do things they are definitely capable of which isn't acceptable either.

Unfortunately for many, university and mental health issues simply won't mix, but for many it does. So, how do you survive university whilst dealing with a mental health issue?

Moving away from home and being thrown in with a bunch of strangers is daunting at the best of times, but add in a mental health illness and it becomes a whole new level of difficulty.

Top tip #1: Do not shut yourself away in your room! Chances are, everyone is feeling awkward, anxious and extremely self-conscious. Whether it's said or not everyone is worrying about other's perceptions of them. Try to put that aside and get stuck in. Everyone is in the same situation.

#2 : Do not stay in every time you housemates go out if you can help it. It's totally understandable sometimes, but whether you drink or not, nights out at uni are a must. Put your glad rags on and dance the night away!

#3 : Be honest. Don't talk about yourself ALL the time, but be open and honest about who you are. Honesty comes across so much better than a cover up. Chances are at some point people will see straight through you if you lie.

#4 : Don't be afraid to start conversations....Don't leave it to the same people all the time or they'll stop making the effort and will think you can't be bothered

#5 : See what support your university offers for those who need it. Many universities have great student support services who offer counselling. Use this to make an action plan in case you start to struggle.

#6 : Get involved with as much as you can. Dealing with mental health issues can leave you feeling more isolated than most, so put yourself out there, get involved and see what happens.

#8 : Take some time out to yourself. Everyone needs this from time to time, but when dealing with mental health issues it's of even more importance! Make sure you're looking after yourself.

#9 : Make an effort to get to know everyone you're with without forgetting those you've left at home...Some people may be feeling homesick or left out and don't know how to get involved... speak to them! It's a good way of making new friends...or if that's you... try hanging out in the shared areas... you're bound to make friends quickly, but at the same time don't forget everyone at home. it's new for them too.

#10 : Explore where you're living...There's no point moving to university if you're just going to stay in your room. Explore the town/city...It's something to do with your flatmates as you're all in the same position! What a positive way to spend your time.

To those in university living with someone dealing with mental health issues: be understanding! Anxiety, OCD, depression, dissociative disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders and many others can leave someone feeling so isolated. So, be patient and welcoming! Around 1 in 4 people deal with some sort of mental illness in a year. You'd want the same if the shoe was on the other foot so to speak.

Being successful in university and life is something anyone can be regardless of gender, age, sex, or health. It may just take a different route for some: especially those with a mental illness. It takes a a balance of work, self-motivation/discipline, socialising, enjoyment and sleep: but it's possible.

Stay safe, look after yourself and definitely enjoy it