Disclosing a mental health problem

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by the Wellbeing Service

For some people, the transition to university can be made more daunting by the thought of being surrounded by new people who don’t understand our difficulties.

Opening up

Telling people about your mental health is a personal choice and you should never feel like you have to. However, it can mean that new people around you better understand your experiences, needs and behaviours and can support you more effectively.

Telling people does not have to be ‘all or nothing’ – you can choose who you tell and what you tell them and you only need to share what is relevant. For example, you may want your flatmate to know you get really anxious around new people and ask that they let you know if they’re having people over.

If you choose to tell people about your mental health, be aware that this may be the first time they are hearing about these kind of difficulties. Letting them know where they can access accurate information is really helpful in their understanding. Mind have a great website with particular information for friends and family.

A helping hand

The University’s Wellbeing Service can support you to tell staff and friends about your difficulties if you feel it would be helpful for them to understand what you are experiencing. This could be on-going difficulties or a specific set of circumstances. This would be collaborative and is never done without your consent.

Dealing with diagnosis

If you have a formal diagnosis, our Disability Service can support you with telling relevant people in the university about your needs. They can work with you to prepare what’s called an Impact Statement which informs academic staff about your difficulties and how these affect your studies – for example letting lecturers know you may need to leave for breaks if you become too anxious. The service can also support you to arrange ‘reasonable adjustments’ to make your study experience as accessible as possible.

Access support

If you’re finding it difficult to disclose your mental health difficulties, remember that you can speak to someone at the Wellbeing Service for support. To arrange an appointment, contact us on 0117 32 86268 or email.

How to build emotional resilience

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Life is not without its challenges – but you can navigate through them. Here are our tips on how to build on your resilience.

  1. Build self-empowerment. Learn about yourself! What motivates you? What are your goals?
  2. Build your support network. We all need help sometimes, it’s important to know when and who to ask for help. You can also strengthen this network by supporting others when they need it.
  3. Learn from you past. We can’t be perfect, but make sure you learn from mistakes and use it to keep building on self-empowerment and support so you can be more resilient next time.

How to deal with an unhelpful emotional reaction

When we hear about a challenging situation, like an assignment being due, we can act on instinct and have an emotional reaction which isn’t always helpful. Here are a few examples of negative thoughts which might cause the unhelpful reaction:

  • “I did badly last time, so I’ll do badly again”
  • “I can’t do this”
  • “I’ve never done this before”

All these thoughts can lessen your resilience but are normal. The key to start dealing with these situations is to be C A L M.

Calm down

The key to start dealing with these situations is to be calm, as it will allow you to think more clearly. Here are some examples you might want to try to help calm down:

  • Let time pass
  • Meditate or practice mindfulness
  • Use an app such as SAM app or Calm
  • Exercise or go for a walk
  • Speak to friends or family
  • Write in a journal
  • Listen to music

Ask questions

Once you have calmed down and can think properly, question your reasons for the unhelpful reaction. Ask yourself:

What’s going on here? And why am I feeling like this?

Learn

Knowing why you reacted unhelpfully can help you to learn the cause(s) of the issue.

Manage

Work out how you might be able to improve your situation and lessen the impact of the negative thoughts.

  • What can you do yourself?
  • What might you need support with?

We have a range of self-help resources available online as well as one to one appointments for individual support with the Wellbeing Service. You can book these over the phone on 0117 32 86268 or by email.