Students urged to look after their mental health

Monday, 18 September 2017 – Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement
Students urged to look after their mental health

The Public Health Agency (PHA) is using the opportunity of the new academic year to raise awareness about student mental health and the support that is available.

This month sees thousands of students heading off to university or college and although this it is an exciting time, it can also be a period of huge change.

Fiona Teague, Health and Wellbeing Improvement Manager with the PHA, said that for many, starting a new course will mean living away from home for the first time.

“It is really important that students are aware that taking care of your mental health is just as important as looking after your physical health.

“Physical health and mental health are closely related. Poor mental health can lead to poor physical health, and physical health problems can affect your mental health.”

“Most of us go to university or college hoping that it will lead to a good career in the future. In the shorter term, priorities usually focus on settling into your new accommodation, making new friends and maybe finding a new job, and these things can be challenging.

“There are many reasons why students could find themselves getting stressed out and this may cause different emotions.”

“If you are feeling down or stressed it is important that you talk to someone you trust as soon as you can,” said Fiona.

“It can be hard for many people to open up and admit that they are feeling low, but talking to someone you trust can make a big difference

“Ignoring problems can make them worse. Support is available for those who may need it.”

The PHA has produced a booklet for students: ‘Mind Your Head: A student guide to mental health’, which covers issues such as money, body image, home life, feeling down and family issues. It also contains a list of helpful local organisations and websites which offer support. The booklet targets first year students at universities and further and higher education colleges, as the transition from school to tertiary education can be a stressful time.

The booklet is available from students’ unions across Northern Ireland. It is also available at www.pha.site/studentguide   

More information on looking after your mental health and the support which is available across Northern Ireland can be found at www.mindingyourhead.info