A Well University Community
Spill the beans - Speak up & seek support
Mental health is a significant issue at university. Students at the University of Tasmania are among the brightest and most aspirational in our State. However, there are substantial financial, academic and social pressures that come from making sacrifices to go to university and there is even more pressure to do well. We find that students are fearful of speaking up for fear of saying the wrong thing, some are worried others will not see them the same way, and some are unaware of who it is they should confide in. This stigma is something that the TUU believes must be broken down, as the invisible disability of mental health issues isolates, hides and draws a person away from having an optimal student experience.
Furthermore, speaking up and seeking support is also a key message for our response and prevention to sexual assault and sexual harassment as well as in response to those experiencing inappropriate behaviour (such as bullying, race discrimination etc.).
We also want to create a culture within our university community where our community members feel empowered and enabled to be active bystanders who have the capacity to identify potentially harmful situations and act to ensure that everyone around is comfortable with what is happening.
If you have experienced or witnessed something that has distressed you, you may experience a range of short and long term psychological and emotional effects. Each person reacts differently and it is normal for feelings to change from day to day. ‘Coping’ describes all the different things people do to manage problems or difficult situations. How we choose to cope can have a big impact on our mental and physical health.
Coping strategies can be both positive and negative.
For example, if you’re going through a difficult time, a negative way of coping may be to use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate or ‘numb the pain’. This kind of coping may provide a quick fix, but often it makes things worse in the long run.
Choosing positive coping strategies will help you manage and reduce stress in a way that won’t be harmful in the long term. You’ll probably find some strategies work better than others depending on the kind of situation or stressor you are facing.
- Ask a trusted friend or family member for help and support. Sharing your thoughts with someone else can bring relief and help you work through the problem.
- Look after yourself – try to eat well, get plenty of sleep and exercise regularly.
- Prioritise self-care each day. Exercise, meditate, listen to music, get close to nature – or whatever it is that makes you feel good – even if it’s just for five minutes a day.
- Write down how you’re feeling. This can really help to clarify things when you’re feeling strong emotions. Write in a journal and keep it handy, so you can look back at what you’ve written.
- Use positive self-talk and self-compassion to counteract negative thought patterns.
- Keep yourself active, but maybe look at reducing your load. Sometimes you just have to accept you can’t do everything. Make a list of the things you need to accomplish and adjust your schedule according to how you feel each day.
- Remember to be patient, kind and caring with yourself.
You don’t have to work this stuff out on your own. Counsellors and Advocates are available at UTas to hear your case and help you with any problems you are facing. They’re also good to talk to if you prefer not to talk to friends or family, or if your problems are making it hard to carry on with your day-to-day activities.