Let's Talk About Mental Health

In support of University Mental Health Day on Thursday 5th March, this week, the Her Campus Nottingham team are writing content on the topic of mental health to help raise awareness of mental health in higher education.

*the following article contains themes which some readers may find triggering. Please read with caution.


To talk about mental health as if it’s something that has already come and gone in my life, is probably very ignorant of me. Despite having a very timely relationship with anxiety and low mood throughout the early stages of my teenage years, and happily being able to say that the extent of these problems are no longer as evident as they once were in my everyday life, mental health is not something that comes and goes for me, or you, or anyone for that matter.


Mental health, like physical health, is the wellbeing of a certain aspect of an individual, in this case, the mind. When I was young and I visited my first counselling session, there were discussions of me having mental health “problems” and what that meant. The pre-existing idea that me struggling with my anxiety and depressive thoughts was considered a problem and admittedly, it was, as it was impacting me every day and was something I couldn’t get through on my own. However, as I grew and began to learn more about my own mental health and what it means to prioritise one’s mental health, it was almost impossible for me not to recognise how mental health in general, is still not something that people prioritise and care for as much as they do with their physical health. 


The oldest example in the book (but an important one at that) is, if a doctor tells you that you have broken your leg, you wouldn’t ignore the diagnosis and then begin to walk again, would you? So, when a person’s mental health begins to dip, why are we told to ignore this and just “get on with it”? I understand that we all get down sometimes, and sometimes getting up out of bed and getting busy, seeing friends and doing work can make a person feel better, but at the moment, there is a growing social notion to ignore all of the problems going on inside, because there are more “important” things to be doing. 


Mental health is something we all have. In the same way we all try to eat healthy foods to maintain our physical health, it should be of the same importance for us to practice things that improve our mental health, too. Admittedly, unlike our physical health, there isn’t one way in which we can all reach our healthiest mental state, but the first step we all must take, is the attempt to understand the miniscule and major things that improve our happiness, the things that make us feel calm and ways in which we can individually avoid burnout. 


For me personally, when my mental health has dipped and I find myself feeling down, I take the day for myself. If I have lectures, I try to go along to get myself out the house, and then afterwards, I often find myself in a coffee shop, writing in some form - whether that is journaling, writing a blog or some work I have due, because that’s what makes me feel at ease. It grounds me and reminds me of what I enjoy and love doing, when my mind is a little all over the place. However, for you, it could be something like working out, reading, being with people who lift you up, spending time with family, running… The list is genuinely endless. The only thing we need to do as individuals is identify the things that help us when we’re feeling down. 


In our fast paced society, it’s easy to forget what we love and enjoy doing because we’re all so focused on what and who we are going to be, the steps we need to take to achieve our career goals and it’s easy to fall into a never-ending mindset of work, but in my opinion, a small shift needs to be made in which the mental and emotional well-being of the individual should be prioritised more. 


Of course, I don’t want to downplay mental health as something that can be solved once you go on a run or see your friends, but the normalisation of ignoring one’s mental health is growing. Like all things, it is a step-by-step process, and identifying things that improve our mood is always helpful. 


Remind yourself to take breaks, be kind to your mind and let yourself feel down once in a while. We’re all so afraid of being down, dealing with our feelings and trying to understand why we feel a certain way, that we don’t let ourselves feel sad, or anything for that matter, so things begin to build up and we burn out. 


Try to understand what makes you happy, what makes you feel at ease and let yourself relax once in a while. 


You’ll thank me, I promise.