As a university student, we are sure you’ve heard ‘it’s okay to not be okay’ more times than you’ve ever wanted to, but Mental Health Awareness Week (May 9th – 15th) is here to remind that not only is it true, but there are also steps you can take to help overcome any feelings that may be plaguing you.
This year, the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week is loneliness. If you’re feeling lonely, the irony is that you’re not alone. In fact, according to recent studies, over a quarter of your classmates feel lonely too. Loneliness is a big part of life that we will all experience whether we like it or not. It can be described as feeling like you don’t or may not have enough friends and social contacts in either quantity, quality, or both.
So, let’s make feeling lonely a little less lonely by discussing it! Read on to discover how you can help yourself and others feel less lonely.
What does a professional think?
Dr Dominique Thompson, fondly known as Dr Dom, is a GP and mental health expert who has a message for you regarding student loneliness.
Below are some more tips for combatting feelings of loneliness:
Join a society
You don’t have to be sporty to join a society – there’s a society for almost everything! At University of Winchester, there was even a society for those who appreciated pudding!
Joining a society will help you to find your ‘people’. It’ll give you an opportunity to get out each week and take you out of your comfort zone – helping you to grow your confidence and your friendship circle!
Get a hobby
If you are lonely and you like it that way, why not take up a hobby to do something constructive with your time? When alone, it’s easy to feel like you’ve done nothing productive, which can increase the feeling of loneliness – even if you enjoy your own company.
Having a hobby will help combat the feeling of loneliness by giving you something to show for your time alone. You could do something crafty, you could learn a new language, you could learn how to code, and all from the comfort of your own bedroom.
Once you’ve honed your hobby, why not branch out and meet others with the same hobby? You’ll find there’s a Facebook group for everything in your local area.
Join the gym
You don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to join a gym. Gyms have something for everyone, be it yoga classes, cycling, swimming and more. Again, it’s a great way to meet other people, but it is also an excellent opportunity to help yourself to feel great.
There’s a significant link between mental and physical health, so looking after your physical health will have positive benefits for you mentally too. As well as feeling physically fitter, you’ll mentally feel more confident which, again, will help you to leave your comfort zone and meet more people.
Speak to your course mates
At the start of the blog we mentioned that the equivalent of 1 in 4 students feel lonely. It’s strange to know that if you look around your lecture hall or seminar group, there are others feeling exactly like you… so… strike up a conversation.
Ask them how they are, how they’re finding the course and see if they want to have a study session. A study buddy could become a real buddy!
Get a job or volunteer
Socialising can be expensive and it’s one element of loneliness that isn’t spoken about. Getting a part-time job whilst studying is not only great for your CV, but it will help you to meet more people and earn some money so that you can spend it on going out and having fun.
Similarly, volunteering is another great way to meet people. Whilst it’s unpaid, you can meet other likeminded people and have a great time whilst doing something productive for others. Afterall, didn’t Gandhi say ‘selflessness is the key to inner peace’?
Okay, we know this isn’t an essay, but it needs a conclusion nonetheless.
We’ve touched upon how normal it is to feel lonely, and what you can do to combat that, but there is help out there. You don’t have to do all of these things to help you feel less lonely as there can be other things at play making you feel lonely.
Always reach out for help when you need it, as that’s what it’s there for. Via Kortext, you have a direct link to Student Minds’ Student Space, rich with resources to aid your mental health. Below, you’ll see some links to other organisations that provide excellent mental health support.
- Samaritans – Their support line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 116 123. If you prefer to write down your feelings, or you’re worried about being overheard, you can send an email email@example.com.
- SHOUT – If you’d prefer to communicate with someone with text messages, you can text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258. This is a free and confidential support service that’s available 24/7.
- Nightline – Some unis have a nightline, which typically runs from around 8pm – 8am during term time. They offer a completely confidential and anonymous service, where they listen to you and offer advice but allow you to make your own decisions on any further action. Visit to the Nightline website to search the phone number for your university.
- PAPYRUS – This suicide prevention charity runs HOPELINEUK from 9am – midnight every day of the year. The helpline is for anyone under the age of 35, and you can call them on 0800 068 4141, text 07860039967 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mind – For information about the mental health support in your local area, you can call Mind’s Infoline on 0300 123 3393 from 9am – 6pm every weekday (except bank holidays).
- CALM – CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) has a specific focus on reducing suicide rates among men, but offers general mental health advice too. You can reach their helpline on 0800 58 58 58 or their webchat between 5pm – midnight every day of the year.
Don’t suffer in silence – you got this.