The University of Southampton
International Voices

Reflections on student mental health

Hello. I’m Sharon. I’m a third-year Mechanical Engineering student, despite this being my first year in UK and studying abroad. I’ve been thinking hard for the right topic to blog about. Travelling would be the most fascinating topic. But I didn’t travel much in the first semester as I had a tight schedule. But I’ve been in London, Nottingham, Winchester and Edinburgh. So, my life wasn’t that dull after all. 😉

I have decided to write about mental illness. It’s not a fun topic but I decided to do so to raise awareness. Back in my country, mental illness is beyond someone’s ken until someone close to you is suffering from it. Thus, I’m assuming the same goes for most international students. One of my friends has recently been suffering from severe anxiety disorder. Not long after he openly told our group about it, we found out that another friend of ours had been suffering with a panic disorder for several years. See? It’s not something that people go around and say, “Hey. You know what? I’ve been suffering from depression for the last two years”. It’s an uncommon topic.

I was diagnosed with depression during our last exam period. I later found out I might also have ADHD, which I’d never heard of before in my whole life. I can’t say for sure I do have it until I get a full assessment from professional- although I have all the symptoms. On doing more research, I found out that I have social anxiety disorder which probably going on for 2 or 3 years now. On a side note, having more than one disorder/illness at the same time is called comorbidity and it’s normal for people with ADHD. As someone who has been super talkative to suddenly be reticent, it’s really depressing. All these issues, sound so harmless. Yet the reality is that they affect lot of people, in a lot of different ways which can prevent them from functioning normally in daily life; affecting their work, social life etc. I don’t want to write about any particular illness in detail. It’s gonna take time and well, it’s not fun. So, I’ll include links if anyone want to find out more about it or you can do the googling on your own.

ADHD/ADD – Anxiety Disorder – Depression

Being away from your family, too much pressure throughout your studies, not having anyone you can talk to about your problems, holding everything back on your own, low self-esteem. Problems as simple as these can lead to a culmination of problems and induce mental illness. That being said, if you find yourself having any sort of problem such as losing your appetite, having trouble falling asleep at night, constantly feeling low, getting anxious for no particular reason, or other general issues that have been  bothering you, I would suggest you to list down your symptoms and take them to your GP. They will know what to do for you. If you’re not sure on how severe your symptoms are, you can always Google some online test (e.g: Depression Self-Assessment) and talk about it with your doctor. Another option will be using the enabling service provided by the university. Honestly, I have not used the counselling service yet, so I can not vouch for how good the service is. But I went for a drop-in session where they asked me about my problems and referred me to the support I needed, and I can say, I’m quite satisfied with just that. However, the waiting list can be very long which means you might have to wait for few weeks before using the counselling service. But I’m pretty sure we can rely on their services.

Enabling Services

On the other hand, if you find your friends have been suffering from any kind of mental illness, it will be helpful if you can do some research on what to do and what not and therefore help them in going through it. Also, the Student Union is hosting ‘Look After you Mate’ sessions, a two hour training to equip you with the tools you need to be there for your friends during difficult times.

That simple act of kindness will mean so much for them. I guess, that’s all I have to say in this post. I included my video on my trip to Edinburgh just to make the post more fun. Enjoy! 🙂


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