Anxiety and depression can affect any of us at any stage of our lives – none of us are immune and each of us needs to pay careful attention to our mental, as well as physical, health. Being at college or university however, brings very particular stresses in addition to the day to day things we can also experience. Getting to know new people, moving away from home, starting a new course, fears about being good enough, comparing ourselves negatively with our new peers, deadlines, financial worries… the list goes on.
It is also a time when we might be separated from our usual support networks, such as key people in our lives, the places we enjoy going to, or things we benefit from doing; it is a period of massive change. There is then the pressure of being told that college or university ‘should be the best days of our lives‘, generating unfair guilt and anxiety around the highs and lows that our time at university will inevitably throw at us. Additionally, simply going to university does not wipe out any existing difficulties or problems; sometimes we believe that going to university will give us an opportunity to start again. While there may be some truth in this, it is a very common realisation that the problems we had before university do not simply melt away, and will still need some attention.
It is not surprising therefore, that as well as bringing fantastic opportunities and the potential for new friendships and relationships, college and university can sometimes trigger or exacerbate anxiety or depression.
There are a number of resources available here that will help you make some sense of what is going on. Under the I am Feeling… section, we will explain a little more what we mean by depression and anxiety, as well as providing some more information about key problem areas, such as sleep difficulties, problems with concentrating and studying, as well as how to support ourselves with suicidal thoughts.
Finally, under Making Changes and Self-Support, we will help you think about and develop a plan of action to support yourself with depression and anxiety, and think about what other support you might look for and put in place from others.