Mental Health Awareness Week

Student life

Two female students studyingUniversity is the best time of your life, so the cliché goes. For many students, however, this isn’t the case, especially in the first few weeks and months when loneliness and homesickness are rife. It may be your first time away from home and everything that’s familiar to you, or you might be a mature student, struggling to relate to younger peers or feeling excluded.

Whatever your university experience, there are things you can do which will help you connect with others. In today’s film, students from Greenwich University, a BLG Mind partner, talk about what worked for them.

More top tips

  • Connect with your new course-mates and flatmates in advance – you can get in touch online with other students before you even leave home through your university’s digital communities or social media. It really helps take the pressure off if you’ve started getting to know others already.
  • Get out of your room! It’s tempting to hide from the world when you’re finding a situation stressful, but you’ll really reduce your chances of getting to know others. Try to hang out in the communal area, especially during the first few weeks. And if you are in your room but you’re open to a chat, don’t close your door. People are much more likely to find an open door an invitation to pop their head round and say hello.
  • Don’t play it cool – when you do encounter your new flatmates or classmates, don’t try for cool – try for friendly and say hi. Remember, they’ll be just as eager as you are to meet someone.
  • Join a society or club – universities are bursting at the seams with an eclectic range of clubs and societies; you’re bound to find one that appeals. They usually run regular activities and meet-ups, and are a great way to connect with fellow students you already have something in common with.
  • Remember, friendships take time – don’t think you’re a failure just because you haven’t gained ten best buddies by the end of the second week. Genuine friendships are forged over time and take some effort to maintain. However, the more time you spend out and about and interacting with different people, the better your chance of meeting people you get on well with. Set yourself a target of speaking to someone new each time you go to a lecture, arranging to go for a coffee with one of your flatmates, or going to a certain number of social events every week.

If you need more help

Sometimes, despite your best intentions, you may still struggle to form friendships. Do seek help if you think you need it – it’s always a good idea to tell people how you feel. Talk to friends, family or someone you can trust. Many colleges and most universities have a free and confidential in-house counselling service you can access, with professionally qualified counsellors. You can usually find out what your institution offers and how to make an appointment in the Student Support section of their website. Or search for your institution at Studentspace.org.uk and you’ll get links to the support services it provides (England and Wales only). Student Space also offers free and confidential support for whatever challenge you’re facing.

More information

Mind has information and advice for students who are struggling to cope with loneliness. Visit their How to Cope with Student Life pages.