#University. The word sort of fills you with dread, doesn't it? Or perhaps it fills you with a nostalgic joy?

Whether you're a student looking at courses and making that vital decision on where to go in September if you're reaching the end of your university life like I am or you have graduated and waved uni goodbye, we all know the sickening feeling university life can sometimes bring.

Recent analysis disclosed students' mental health issues

A recent analysis of more than 15,000 UK first-year #Students' disclosed mental health issues in 2015-16. This suggests that five times as many new students experience mental health issues compared to new students in 2006 which stood at about 3,000, the Institute of Public Policy Research has found.

As a continuing student, I was included in this statistic as I started my university life back in 2015. Three years on I still suffer from mental health issues and university life has not helped. That is not to say I have had no support at Derby, I most defiantly have and it has been very helpful. There is support out there for students but it is very limited as to what and when they can offer mental health support. After all, resources can only stretch so far.

I struggled with demanding workload

I don't believe some people out there understand how difficult university can be, especially if you are suffering from a mental health issue. I'm aware that sounds very patronising to some but it really is. For me, it was the leap from A-Levels to Degree level coursework, I was completely underprepared for it and when I started my degree I struggled with the demanding workload.

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I do not sit exams on my course, I have assessments instead. I struggled with exams at A-Level as I am a visually impaired student so exams were very exhausting as a result. However, I feel as though new students are not well informed about the pressure of deadlines and exams dates. there is plenty of information out there about how to cope with it all and how to look after yourself properly, but there isn't a lot of information about how isolating university can be, how anxiety-inducing and stressful it can be at times.

Telling someone you need help is often the hardest

Mental health and self-care are two things that I do not believe are spoken about enough, not just in university but in the UK as a whole. During my time at secondary school and then at Sixth Form, I experienced anxiety and depression quite severely. Being one of the only disabled students in my area, it was very hard to find someone who could relate to what I was going through. Many people didn't talk about mental health and it wasn't until I got to uni that I found several other students with mental health issues and disabilities.

I just used to get on with it and handle my problems myself instead of reaching out for help, mainly because I didn't know how to and I think that is something some new students struggle with today. That first step of telling someone you need help and support is often the hardest, I speak from experience. I think that mental health and how to deal with it in a healthy, effective way should be discussed a lot easier in a student's academic and social life. The more information that is out there, the better, especially so that support can be put into place by the time a student enrols at their chosen university.

Even with new technology these days, it can be difficult for new students to make friends. I know I did. Limitations such as mental health issues and #disability can really take its toll on first-year students. Moving away from home and living in a brand new city can make some very homesick. An undergraduate degree is not plain sailing. It’s a lot of hard work, late nights and tears. Not to mention trying to make ends meet on a meagre student loan which will stay with a student for thirty years after they graduate.

Is it any wonder why students experience mental health problems within the first year of their degree?

There can be ways around managing mental health issues. Of course, different things work for different people, but from my experience writing and listening to music helps me to cope with my anxiety and depression. Deadlines and exam dates can be negotiated with the university if a student thinks it may be of some help. There can be leniency under some circumstances. But taking care of yourself should be a student's top priority. Nothing matters more than a person's mental and physical health.

Students are more stressed, they do suffer from more mental health issues than previous generations because I believe there is a lot more pressure on them today. One in four people in the UK will suffer mental health issues at one point in their lives. No one is immune to it, it can happen to anyone. It just takes that first step to reach out and admit you need help. There is a stigma around mental health that needs to be abolished. The more we talk about it, the more we share our own experience then the more people we can help and support them through really dark times.

Isn’t that something worth fighting for?