About: There can be a lot to think about when you start university. Laura shares her advice on how to prepare and look after your mental health.
Once you’ve had your place confirmed for university, reality sinks in very quickly. Suddenly, a million thoughts are rushing through your head – what do I need to buy? Will I manage living away from home? Will I make friends? These are just a few of the thoughts that I experienced when preparing for university and on top of that I was trying to improve my mental health – it was a lot to process.
The most important task for me to do before anything else was to ensure that I had reached out for help.
Seek help first
The most important task for me to do before anything else was to ensure that I had reached out for help with regards to my mental health. Everybody will deal with things in their own way. However, I believe that speaking to family, friends and professionals before going to university will ensure that you are mentally strong enough to tackle this change no matter what your circumstance may be.
Be confident in who you are
Before you go to university, think about who you are and make a list of the things that you enjoy doing, and also what you don’t enjoy. This will help you have a better understanding of the type of societies you would like to be a part of. It will also give you a strong foundation to help you do the things that will make you happy.
Remember that everyone will be in the same position as you!
Try to avoid ‘what if’ situations
I was a major culprit for this. The weeks leading up to university I would think, "What if this happens?" or, "What if this goes wrong?" You can’t think like that. Instead, I suggest focusing on facts such as: I worked hard for my place so I deserve to be here.
Also remember that everyone will be in the same position as you! There’ll be a lot to take in when you first arrive at university, so it will be less overwhelming if you process things with a fresh mind rather than having pre-conceived ideas about what will happen.
Research your university's support systems
It could be useful to do some research regarding the support systems that your university provides and who you can go to if you are ever struggling with your mental health. A lot of universities provide counselling services on campus or, in my case, a wellbeing society which you can go to at any point if you need someone to talk to. I would suggest you get familiar with them before you go to university, so that you know who you can go to if you need support.
A lot of universities provide counselling services on campus or, in my case, a wellbeing society which you can go to at any point if you need someone to talk to.
Remember: you are not stuck
My final preparation tip for you is this: don’t think that there is no going back. If you get to university and realise it’s all just a bit too much and your mental health is struggling, you can take a step back and think, is this really for me? Nobody will be disappointed in you and you will not be a failure. In fact, you will be stronger than you have ever been, as you’ll have made a decision that will benefit you and improve your wellbeing. So try not to put pressure on yourself. University is a new chapter in your life, so take it as it comes and remember your mental health comes before anything – make sure you are happy and content as nothing else matters.
University is a new chapter in your life, so take it as it comes and remember your mental health comes before anything.
More information and advice
We have tips and advice to help you find the support you need. Take a look at our guides.
Where to get help
However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.
Supports students to look after their mental health by providing information and advice.
They also provide details about local services offered by universities and information on how you can access support group programmes.
You can call or email for more information (this is not a helpline).
Free, short-term online counselling for young people aged 25 or under. Their website also provides lots of information and advice about mental health and wellbeing.
Email support is available via their online contact form.
They have a free 1-2-1 webchat service available during opening hours.
- Opening times:
- 4pm - 11pm, Monday - Friday
Provides information about local counselling and advice services for young people aged 11-25.
Put in your location and what you need help with into their 'Find help' search, and see what services are available in your area.