The winter season is upon us, and with it can come a number of struggles. Your President of Welfare and Community, Andy Costigan, shares his insight into taking care of mental health in yourself and others in what can be a trying time of year.
This will be my fourth year in Hull and believe me when I tell you that the Winter Blues are real. Right now you might be thinking about going home for the holidays, money might be running out and the same goes for personal motivation.
Despite what you may have heard – university is a staggeringly difficult time for most people. Stress is not an immediately noticeable thing, it accumulates. Your capacity to deal with stress and pressure diminishes alarmingly fast until, like me, you might find yourself outside the library, 8 hours before your deadline staring at Tilly the Turtle wondering how you got into this mess as you chain smoke your 8th cigarette for that hour.
Most people have in some way encountered difficulties with mental health. It may be their experiences or those of their friends, but nowadays everyone has some experience or awareness. Good mental health does not mean an absence of having a mental health condition. It’s about recognising that there can be difficulties in day to day life and then either managing those difficulties or managing your response to those difficulties.
Recognising those stresses, and those difficulties in yourself and in your friends is amazingly powerful. Reaching out to support services to manage your own mental health is the first step in dealing with mental health difficulties that may arise. And taking that first step to get help is easier than you think.
Looking after yourself
Health and wellbeing are a non-judgemental listening ear service in student central. They have drop in sessions of 20-30 minutes every day 8:45-5:30 where you can speak to a qualified advisor about your situation. Alternatively you can book appointments in advance for 50 minute sessions.
Email them at [email protected] (up to 3 working days response time) or call central hub on 01482 462 222.
The prospect of seeking help on campus might be a little daunting – Samaritans are a wonderful charity which you can call for free on 116 123.
In Hull in particular you can contact Let’s Talk who can offer cognitive behavioural therapy on managing stress and low mood but you must be registered with a Hull GP.
Looking after others
Raising a welfare concern is a way for you to let the university know you’re concerned about a fellow student – whether that’s your housemate or your friend. This NHS page highlights some symptoms of low mood or depression – but really it’s any noticeable character changes that may indicate a bigger problem.
If you come across someone who is in crisis – that are at risk of causing harm to themselves or others the best course of action is always to ring 999.
Additionally you may consider contacting the mental health response team - a 24/7 response team who can brilliantly assist you in managing the situation.
Mitigating Circumstances / Coursework extensions
Applying for extensions on coursework can ease the initial stress of time constraints. You should go to your student hub and submit an extension request form. Staff at the hub will be able to assist you in filling it out. Alternatively, if you feel you need longer than 10 days to complete work you may consider applying for mitigating circumstances. Mitigating circumstances can be applied for 10 days after a deadline or examination.
So for the remainder of semester, and the rest of your time here at university, be mindful of how you are feeling and how others may be acting. Look after your mate and look after yourself. Mental health is just as important as your physical health, and both impact your studies,
It is okay to not be okay. It’s okay to get help.