Looking after your mental health as student can be the key to get the most out of your uni experience.
Unfortunately in the UK, traditional MH support services are spread thin and this means that looking after your mental health comes down to you.
So here are some things that you can do to support your own mental health.
Get Into A Routine
Getting into a routine can sounded like obvious advice but it also can be difficult to do. Particularly if you decide to live away from home. Your lectures and seminars might account for as little as 10 hours a week, so what are you going do the rest of the time?
It can be easy to fall into the trap of doing nothing, which is no good for your mental health.
You want to make sure that you try and have a routine of doing things outside of going to lectures. Joining clubs or other organised activities can help shape your life and give you some rhythm.
If you have a physical or sensory impairment, finding activities that are accessible can be tricky so this is another good reason to join clubs or societies. University based initiatives have a responsibility to be inclusive so they will try and meet your additional needs.
By building up routine of things that you usually do, it will make sure that you always have something to look forward to, even on a down day.
Talk To Your Tutors
There can be a lot reasons to miss lectures, particularly if you are a disabled student, and missing lectures can impact negatively on mental health.
You can begin to think, “I’ve missed that lecture so I should miss the seminar as well.”
“I missed all last week and I’ll never catch up.”
Despite all your best intentions, life can and will get in the way of your studies. However, all universities will have support services on offer, including student support officers, drop-in sessions and union workers.
Also your tutors will be available for the occasion one-one if you need to catch up.
Don’t let missing lectures or seminars put you in a negative frame of mind.
For more help and support see:
These disabled student study tips come from students, past and present, and experience student support officers.
Take A Break
Taking regular breaks is sage advice for any student but it can be particularly important for the disabled student.
Many conditions that affect people physically, can affect on how quickly you fatigue. Spreading your study time out with ample breaks can make it seem like you have not been ‘hard at it’, but the truth is retention is the name of the game.
Shorter study sessions for people who fatigue easily can often lead to better retention.
Listing tasks and then marking them as complete can be an easy way to break down larger pieces of work into more manageable chunks. Also apps such as Trello (which is free!), can make task lists easier to make and track.
Old fashion paper notebook can be off putting to a number of disabled students. If you have motor control difficulties, pen and paper can seem like the last thing that you want. But scribbling thoughts that just pop into your head can be really useful. Not everything needs to be neat and tidy. Sometimes messy is better.
Setting The Zoom
Setting the natural zoom on your web browser and other applications can be critical. The temptation can be to go full on screen magnifier or even audio description. However, depending on the nature of your visual impairment, setting the native zoom option can be more beneficial, as the native option often avoids distortion that some specialist solution cause.
Set Out Your Space
Setting out your space is a top disabled student study tip. It may be that due to your condition, you thrive in certain conditions and others you don’t.
For example, if you struggle to concentrate with noise, then probably best to try and avoid studying in halls or in your shared house.
Most university libraries have disabled students’ room, which is kitted out with all sorts of assistive tech but is also not accessible to the majority. These rooms can be ideal quiet zones for people who need them.
These disabled student study tips come from our ED Disabled Student Guide which available to buy here.
There are more tips in the guide so it is worth buying – also it costs the same as a coffee.
Ethos Disabled Student Accommodation Tips taken from our Student Guide!
Staying at Home and Commuting
The main advantage to staying at home is continuity. This is true of all students (disabled or not) but it is worth reinforcing here.
If you commute, providing that this is practical, then you can enjoy continuity of care provision and the stability that brings. Even if you have a low support package, do not underestimate the benefits of stability if things are good. It can be incredibly difficult to recreate those positive conditions elsewhere.
If your course of study is challenging and requires a lot of your energy, then commuting might be the right way to go. Moving can take time to get right and the upheaval might not be for you, if you need to hit the ground running academically.
It is important to remember that many non-disabled people make the decision to commute. It can feel as though you need to leave home in order to really feel the benefit of ‘going to university’, but this is not the case.
It also worth noting that your course will run for at least 3 years, which means living away from home is something that can always been done in the future.
Ethos Disabled Student Accommodation Tips – Living Away
If you decide to live away from home – plan, plan early and really think about what you need.
Every halls of residence will have accessible rooms. Accessible rooms have wet rooms and large space, enough to easily move a wheelchair around. However, things to think about when picking halls might include:
- Where is the campus that you will use most? Is it close to the halls that you are thinking about using?
- Are the surrounding areas accessible – ie can you get out and about?
- Are the things you need close by and can you access them? This include shops, bars and places to eat.
For a place to be accessible, it is not just about where you sleep and eat – it is also about what is around you and what will give you the best experience.