When do we learn how to cope with things not going our way? The importance of mental resilience cannot be understated. It helps us get through life with all its ups and downs and still manage to get up in the morning.
When The Reality Is An Anticlimax
Young people moving away from home can find the experience both exciting and daunting. The reality of living in a new city, making new friends and dealing with independence can all take their toll. Without their usual support network of friends and family, students can easily get despondent. They may not want to tell loved ones how they feel, either due to embarrassment or to prevent them worrying.
A big part of moving away from home is learning to cope on your own. Much easier if you’re given the tools to do it. As I’ve mentioned previously, young people can find managing their money difficult and debt can be a serious worry for them. Universities have an agreed duty of care for their students. There are opportunities available for those who need counselling or just a bit of support in their new environment. But shouldn’t we equip them with the skills they need before they leave home?
Learn From Experience
Mental health is as important as physical health. Just like physical health, it can be strengthened by a regular exercise programme. As Gina Barreca says,
‘I see taking care of my emotional and mental health in the same way that I see taking care of a garment: After it’s been through wear and tear, it needs attention.’
It makes sense to providie a ‘toolbox’ of strategies to use before students develop a mental health problem. This can only help in fortifying their resilience when faced with challenging situations.
Feeling stressed is common among students, it’s not always bad, as stress can help in certain situations. Too much stress, or feeling overwhelmed, is not good. To combat this, many people use alcohol or drugs as a way of relaxing. Instead, learning relaxation techniques can help control your state of mind, without using a crutch that could lead to dependency. Stress is not a mental illness, but coping badly with stress can lead to anxiety, panic attacks and depression.
Why should this generation of young people have to face the same problems their parents faced without the necessary skills? Mental health is important for all of us, but mental illness still carries a stigma. We need to teach this generation to take care of their mental health by giving them effective ways to do it.
Already in further or higher education?
Student Minds (the UK’s student mental health charity) has produced How to cope with student life . This is a useful guide to how having a mental health problem can impact your life as a student. It suggests coping strategies and available support that can lead to mental resilience.
‘Mental health……is not a destination but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.’ – Noam Shpancer