Mental Health & University

by Angus Morrissey

Having a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder is awful – it turns you into a person you’re not, and if you don’t act on it quickly it can ruin not only your study ambitions, but your life. Looking back as a current first-year university student who has had obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) for the last four years, I’ve made countless mistakes while trying to manage my illness. I hope to share my experiences and also provide some advice to CSU students out there that are going through a similar predicament.

Firstly, to my detriment I concealed the fact that I had OCD for three years. In my mind, I couldn’t tell my family or my friends as I didn’t want to burden them. I believed that if I told them I would become a problem and I’d bring them down with me. This was my biggest error. If you incur any symptoms or fears that you are being affected by a mental health condition, talk to your loved ones straight away. The people closest to you would bend over backwards to help you in any way, shape or form – so let them! That’s the first step.

As a CSU student there are measures you can take to optimise your time at university and fortunately, CSU has a wealth of resources dedicated to helping students with their mental health. A host of experienced and highly-qualified student counsellors are situated on all campuses – and from Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm, you can email, phone or talk face-to-face, with any of these health professionals. You can also register for the disability service, who in consultation with you will able to provide you with any necessary provisions for your course – such as extra time for assessment tasks. Additionally, you might like to check out the ‘Tips for Good Mental Health and Wellbeing’ section of the Student Portal which can be invaluable. The page has helpful materials on aspects such as stress, relaxation and mindfulness.

Now, if you’re like me and you do all the aforementioned elements I’ve discussed – it’s now time to focus on your study. It is crucial that you stay organised throughout the semester by eliminating all the needless distractions in your life, and by regularly committing yourself to a pattern of work that allows you to succeed every day in your degree. If you’d like, you can refer back to my previous article, ‘How To Make Session 2 your Best Session Yet’, for tips in this regard.

Living day in, day out with a mental illness at university is hard enough – however, if you don’t apply yourself and you don’t setup strategies for success, it’ll be a nightmare. The alarming figure today is that 1 in 4 Australians aged 16-24 currently have a mental health condition. If you’re part of this statistic, there can be light at the end of the tunnel.

CSU is running mindfulness research and training in Session 2 2016. To participate, first complete the online survey on mindfulness for wellbeing and academic motivation. Then you can either attend 4 weekly online training sessions at 6pm on Wednesday (you choose to commence from 3 August or 31 August), or work through self-guided online modules. Registration closes 28 August, 2016. For more information visit the Student Portal Relaxation, Meditation and Mindfulness page