By Alisha Kilich, Head of Student Support at LIS
For many students, university is the start of a new journey and adventure — and this can be very exciting. However, every big life transition may also bring challenges. University pressures are well known, and students today face the added difficulties that come with learning during a pandemic. Feelings of anxiety, uneasiness, and stress may become commonplace amongst university-level students as they learn to navigate this new stage.
The 3rd of March was LIS’ first University Mental Health Day as a higher education institution. At LIS, we used the opportunity to reflect with some of our undergraduate students about their experiences, and how they work with the student support team, or independently, to better manage their mental wellbeing.
Below are some of their recommendations for how to deal with some common mental health stumbling blocks:
Perfectionism is a trap
“I thought I had to be the perfect student, so when I didn’t feel like I looked good, didn’t finish prep work or was going to be late for class, I ended up doing nothing at all and found myself in a vicious cycle. Talking about this, I realised I was self-sabotaging, and wanting everything to be perfect was a part of anxiety.
Now I’ve been practicing small steps, reminding myself that even achieving fifty percent of what I wanted in the day is a big step forward. Alisha has constantly reminded me, ‘progression, not perfection’ and this is my new mantra.”
“When I was in sixth form, I was able to sleep three or four hours a night and I’d be fine the next day. Now, I realise the amount of sleep I get has a direct impact on how I’m feeling. If I don’t sleep right or don’t have enough sleep, I feel really low, and the days are hard to cope with.
I was initially confused as to why this was happening and didn’t think there was a cure. But I’ve now been putting good routines in place and this has helped the days feel brighter and the nights feel calmer. What’s helped me to sleep well includes exercising every day, making sure I don’t get more than eight hours of sleep (even when it’s hard to get up), and expressing how I’m feeling through journaling and talking.”
Fighting impostor syndrome
“I have three mental health conditions and quite often my days are harder than what most students experience. I automatically put myself in a box where I felt as though I was not as smart as the others, didn’t have the same confidence, and felt as though I didn’t belong. University has not been easy, but I’m glad I am here as I’m learning, with support and taking things at my own pace, that this course is part of my recovery and building a better life for myself. I’ve also come to realise that everyone struggles with their mental health in some shape or form, and that’s okay; it does not define our ability or who we are.”
Support at LIS
Here at LIS, we want to really encourage students to take the time to look after their health and wellbeing. Student life (and life in general) can become challenging for many reasons and can affect our physical and mental health, as well as our overall confidence. As Head of Student Support, I strongly advocate that university is a good time and place to practice important habits to help prioritise our mental health.
We want to support students to build healthy lifestyles and feel more resilient. To do this, at LIS we offer:
- Regular 1-to-1 meetings with the Head of Student Support.
- Student support plans tailored to individual health, disabilities, and learning differences.
- Weekly mindfulness and yoga group practices.
- Access to individual weekly counselling sessions with specialists.
- Individual workshops about stress and anxiety, sleep, low moods, building confidence and resilience, personal organisation, and time and money management.
- Support drop-ins throughout the course.
As LIS’ Head of Student Support, it’s a privilege for me to work with students on their individual journeys. I’ve seen first-hand the difference talking and reaching out for support can make in a student’s life, and I thank every single student for their trust and openness.
I’m excited about welcoming more students in 2022, and continuing a movement of practicing good self-care and putting mental health first.
Alisha Kilich is the Head of Student Support at LIS. If you’re a prospective student, or know a prospective student who might be interested in learning more about the student support offering at LIS, you can get in touch with Alisha at email@example.com