Mental Health: Breaking the Taboo

In a recent study, the NUS found that ‘54% of respondents experienced mental health problems yet did not seek support or help’. The results, taken from a YouGov survey, portrayed that ‘one in four students suffer from mental health’.

As law students, there is an abundance of pressure forced upon us to keep on top of our studies, find work experience, maintain relationships and look after ourselves. Unfortunately, when our time is already spread so thinly between academic work, professional work and our social lives, self-care can sometimes easily be put at the bottom of the pile.

To admit that you are suffering with mental health issues takes courage and seeking help is one of the hardest, yet most rewarding, things that you can do. To realise and admit is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s important to accept your situation and get help in order to move forward.

The isolation that comes from mental health issues can consume you, but you are not alone. There are so many ways to get help, and so many people who can support you. If you don’t feel comfortable visiting your GP, confide in a personal tutor, family member or friend if you can. Your university will more than likely have an entirely confidential wellbeing centre.

The idea of going to a GP to discuss your mental health can seem an utterly daunting prospect, but it will most likely be the best thing that you can do for yourself. Your GP will understand, everything will be confidential, and they can provide you with the help and care that you need. They will work with you to make a diagnosis and then you can discuss treatment, support or a specialist service. If you don’t feel comfortable discussing this with your GP, it is totally understandable, and sometimes we all need a friend to attend the appointment with us – don’t be afraid to ask loved ones for help! Whatever you do, don’t deem your issues ‘unimportant’, mental illness is an illness like any other, and everyone is entitled to – and deserves - the care and help that they need.

As someone whom has lost a friend through mental illness, I cannot express how important is for you to seek help – you’d be surprised how many people are going through exactly the same emotions as you are. There is nothing to be embarrassed about, and you should never be ashamed to ask for help, as the unfortunate likelihood is that other people you know may be suffering in silence too.

If you think (or know) that a friend or family member is suffering from a mental health problem, there is a variety of ways in which you can help. Although this can be a very difficult topic to approach, especially if they haven’t confided in you, you should speak to the individual if you believe they may be showing some signs. If they have not confided in you as of yet, please know that admitting to mental health issues isn’t as easy as admitting you to having a physical illness: the best thing you can provide is support. If they have confided in you, ask what you can do to help and reassure them that you support them. Offer to go with them when they seek advice or information, as they could benefit from not being alone. Mind is a wonderful charity who can give a much more in-depth insight into what you can do to help.

Some useful links:

  • Student Minds runs a network of student groups on campuses throughout the UK. Thus its worth a while a check if your University is on the list.

  • Mind is a fantastic mental healthy charity whose motto is ‘we won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect’.

  • Samaritans provides emotional support to anyone who is struggling, experiencing emotional distress or having suicidal thoughts.

  • Papyrus UK offers a Confidential support and advice service primarily focusing on suicide prevention. You can also contact them if you are worried for a friend and want some advice on how to support them.

  • B-eat focuses on eating disorders, with fantastic helplines and online support groups.

  • Sane is an out of hours mental health helpline aiming to combat the stigma. Most importantly you can remain anonymous.

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