How to deal with depression at uni

Dealing with uni can be difficult. From exams and coursework deadlines to finances and relationships, there is an awful lot on our plates. With increasing pressure on students to juggle all things at once, it can take a toll on one’s mental health.

In a study conducted by the IPPR think tank, it indicated that the number of students who had discussed their mental health problems in their first year reached 15,395 in a decade. They also found that a record 134 students killed themselves in 2015.

To help prevent suicide, it is important to understand exactly what suicide is and why it occurs. In a handbook produced by the National Union of Students, it states, “suicide is not a mental health condition but a behavioural outcome resulting from a combination of social, psychological and biological processes, including the ability to carry out the suicidal act.” They have found that some of the indicators of suicide risk included a “search for perfection” and “fear of failure.” There are so many factors that can contribute to a student feeling depressed, or thinking that suicide is the only way out.

I want to emphasise that help is available.

Nobody should ever feel like death is the only option. Remember that you are valued, and there is so much potential inside of you. There are a number of things you can try to help prevent suicidal thoughts:

CBT

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy involves meeting with a therapist to better understand your condition and finding ways to fight your anxiety. The therapist and patient work together to challenge negative views about oneself, the future and the world and replace them with more positive outlooks.

Open up to somebody you trust

This could be a friend, a family member, a teacher, a doctor or somebody from your religious community. Bottling up your emotions can exacerbate the issues; by discussing your feelings, you may feel a huge weight lifted off your shoulders, and the person who you confide in may be able to offer you valuable advice.

Look after your physical health

Your mind and body are connected; if one is suffering, then so will the other. Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. HelpGuide.org highlights that exercise promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that make you feel good.

Contact these charities

Mind: 0300 123 3393

“We provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. We campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. We won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect.”

Nightline

Nightline is a student listening service which is open at night and run by students for students. Every night of term, trained student volunteers answer calls, emails, instant messages, texts and talk in person to their fellow uni students about anything that’s troubling them. As the Nightline volunteers are fellow students, they can directly empathise with their callers’ problems.

Samaritans: 116 123

“Samaritans Vision is that fewer people die by suicide. We work to achieve this vision by making it our mission to alleviate emotional distress and reduce the incidence of suicide feelings and suicidal behaviour.”

They do this by offering a 24-hour helpline, reaching out to high-risk groups and working in partnership with other organisations and experts.

Students Against Depression

*”One in four of us will experience some kind of mental health problem in our lifetime. One in 10 will experience depression or anxiety with depression in any one year. This statistic holds true for students and young people. Depression is one of the biggest dangers facing young people today – suicide is the biggest killer of young men under 35 in the UK.

Students Against Depression is a website offering advice, information, guidance and resources to those affected by low mood, depression and suicidal thinking. Alongside clinically-validated information and resources, it presents the experiences, strategies and advice of students themselves – after all, who are better placed to speak to their peers about how depression can be overcome?”*


If you know somebody else who is feeling suicidal, the best thing you can do is offer your support. Let them know that you are completely there for them; encourage them to share their feelings and don’t judge. Also, recommend professional help; although it may seem that they feel better after speaking to you, the impact may be short-term. Professional help might be a more effective method for providing a long-term solution for their suicidal thoughts. And if they are in immediate danger, do not leave them alone, and call 999.

“Suicide doesn’t end the chances of life getting worse. It eliminates the possibility of it ever getting any better.”

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