Life at university is usually a period of considerable change and development – personal as well as academic.
These challenges can be exciting but from time to time we can all run into some difficulty which overloads our emotional resources.
This can leave us feeling drained, confused, anxious or depressed.
Old insecurities, linked perhaps to difficult past experiences or to unresolved issues within ourselves, may then re-emerge or intensify, particularly when having to deal with competing demands, setbacks, losses or critical decisions.
Our usual coping strategies may become less effective or more self-defeating – procrastination, perfectionism, escapism etc. Sometimes seemingly positive changes can land us in unfamiliar territory, emotionally, with similar results. In both situations, more extreme reactions can significantly undermine our well-being, effectiveness and achievements.
In the long run, and multiplied across the student population, all this can amount to a considerable waste of institutional and social, as well as personal, investments. Universities everywhere therefore now provide some counselling support for students, to help them confront their difficulties.Students seek counselling help for a variety of problems. Some are academically related – e.g.. study and exam anxiety or stress, sleep and concentration difficulties, fear of speaking up in a group etc. Some concern problematic reactions to particular events – e.g.. bereavement, post-traumatic stress, separation/home sickness, psychological consequences of illness or injury.
Other problems include loneliness, family or cultural difficulties, problems around sexuality or relationships, depression, worry or anxiety, panic attacks, sexual abuse, low self-esteem, eating disorders, substance abuse, psychosomatic conditions, self-injury, suicidal thoughts and so on.
However, most students having counselling are not medically ill as such – so you don’t have to wait until you have a “breakdown” to ask for help.