By Kaz Bosali
Mental Health Awareness Week has come at a fitting time because the world is facing huge uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The UK is currently in lockdown with many shops, gyms and universities closed, causing massive disruption to our routines and everyday life.
Maintaining our mental health during this crisis has been at the forefront of the public’s consciousness, with public figures including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge urging awareness and openness. Nevertheless, even prior to the coronavirus lockdown, there is one topic that is often avoided but which has a profound impact on our mental health: loneliness, and in particular loneliness amongst students.
According to a study, 1/6 students say they have no ‘true friends’ at university and 1/3 reported to feeling lonely on a weekly basis.
We are recognising the impact of our mental health, yet loneliness is still not openly discussed. Perhaps it is stigmatised, perhaps we don’t want to be labelled as ‘lonely’, perhaps loneliness is a feeling that we don’t recognise so we aren’t sure of how to identify the feeling.
However, that doesn’t stop it from being very common. Whether you are a student who has left home for the first time or whether you are an international student thrust into a new country and perhaps experiencing culture shock. You are not isolated in feeling lonely.
The good news is that feeling lonely in the beginning is normal and temporary majority of the time. Once you settle in, get into a routine and get to know people, these feelings often fade.
There are practical steps that you can take to ensure mental health stability and reduce feelings of loneliness:
Talk to someone; it can be a parent, your roommates, your friends back at home or online forums on Facebook and Reddit.
Prioritise self-care; drinking water, regular exercise, meditating and eating the right nutrition make a world of difference to your mental state. Ensuring you have these in place will give you solid foundations.
Join societies; meet people who are likeminded. Universities have a wonderful array of clubs and societies that you can join which accommodates for lots of different interests including sport, books, arts and crafts.
Feeling connected is a basic human need. Moving to university is a stepping-stone to independence but it doesn’t mean you have to walk it alone. Students are a vulnerable group. This is why we launched HYBR, so we can look out for students and support them through their rental journey.
You would be surprised at just how common loneliness is but there is a world out there for you to connect to.
To all the young people who are feeling lonely… you are not alone.