Friday 16 March 2018

University isn't always a positive place

Jatinder discusses how statistics show that, far from being an anomaly, mental health difficulties are common among students.
- Jatinder

I have no problem with admitting that, for a long time, I kind of felt like an anomaly because my experience of University does not match up to what I was told it would be by many others. But, poor mental health can affect us all. Your emotions are wild – they can go up and down like a seesaw and you don’t have to be at university to understand how this feels like. But experiencing this at university can be even harder to fathom. It’s like one minute you may think life isn’t that bad and the next thing you know you’re in your dorm room panicking, staring at the ground listening to the voices in the corridor. Sometimes the voices in your head just contemplate whether being alive is even worth it right now or if you would rather be dead.

This is confusing when you bear in mind that you are only used to hearing about the life-changing, positive aspects of university. You may even question why your feelings are so extreme or if you are the problem.

Society doesn’t give us a manual to deal with mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, or mental wellbeing when it comes to extreme stress or heartache as easily as it does when you have the flu or a broken ligament or bone. If you’re unfortunate, family members aren’t that sympathetic to you when you ring them up every week to tell them you cannot hack university life and you want to come home.

But it is perfectly acceptable to feel deflated because university isn’t what you thought it would be or that the journey appears to be physically and mentally tougher on you than anyone else around you. University does not have to break you apart or change you for the worse and you should not let it do so.

However, this isn’t just a small-scale issue; it’s a big broadcasting problem that needs to be resolved. The number of students to drop out of university with mental health problems has more than trebled in recent years. Figures show that 87,914 students requested counseling in 2015-16 and it is highly likely that these figures have continued to rise. I said I felt like an anomaly, but I’m not. Statistics show that 1 in 4 university students suffer from mental health problems like me.

In 2016 it was reported at least 77% of the student population at university experienced depression. So if you went to university, the chances are at least one person you may know was struggling at the brink.

We need to break this culture of shying away from speaking about the negative aspects of university life. More needs to be done in educating people about the down spirals that one can face whilst being in higher education, and more needs to be done to ensure those who are struggling in university do not let these intense issues encompass their ability.

Hi , I'm Jatinder. I am a final year Law student at the University of East Anglia. I have suffered with mental health issues throughout my time at university and would like to share that it is okay to not be okay, during what can feel like a tough time in a person's life at university.

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