Being a student is tough. That is a fact.
Movies, TV shows, and wider culture might portray university (or college for our American brethren) as a fun and care free time, this isn’t wholly correct. Whilst these things are sometimes fair, it is a difficult and nuanced time of growth and maturity. I have lots of great memories of being a student, but also difficult ones. Only talking about the positive experiences is unrealistic.
I don’t want to sound ungrateful. I have loved the opportunity I have had to study. It can be a wonderful and exciting experience. Yet, this should not stop us talking about tough times.
Whilst these don’t apply to everyone, University offers many challenges which subtly build up.
It can be difficult to move away from home. Whether the move is 5 or 5000 miles, it is significant.
It can be challenging to have a culture of constant work. Essays and research need to be done, whether it is after 5pm or on the weekend. It is relentless stress.
It can be a complicated time of development and change, all in a new environment.
It can a time of overwhelming choices, academically, vocationally, and socially.
It can be a dawn of upheaval, patterns, relationships, and work are all in flux.
It can be a brutally competitive environment.
It can involve many lonely days.
It can be exhausting.
This week is Mental Health Awareness week at the University of Edinburgh and it is much needed. Whilst it is difficult to get information on students everywhere, studies indicate that students struggle with mental health more than average. This is far worse for graduate students.
In my experience Universities do a good job promoting mental welfare, but it doesn’t take away the pain. Many of my friends and I have suffered. For some it is anxiety, others depression, bipolar, or schizophrenia.
I don’t want to sit here and claim that being a student is a horrible or worse than other peoples’ situations. However, it isn’t easy, and we should respect that. Being a student is nothing to scoff at. My respect to anyone else who is.
To anyone who is a student, well done and keep up it up. You are going through something which isn’t easy.
To anyone who is a student struggling with mental health. You are not alone. I am struggling with you, and so are literally millions of others. I like to think that you are in good company. Keep fighting and don’t let anyone belittle your achievement of keeping going. Continuing at university in the midst of mental illness was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
Let’s celebrate the resilience students and keep talking about mental health!