There was a time, not long ago, when mental health felt like a taboo topic, especially for young people growing up in a world seemingly obsessed with body image and celebrity culture.
Fitting in at any cost can feel like the single biggest priority in the life of a student, particularly when it involves moving to a new city and being surrounded by unfamiliar faces.
But, brick by brick, the wall of silence is being knocked down. The stigma attached to talking about how we feel inside our heads is very much old news.
So, what changed?
High-profile awareness campaigns by the likes of pop icon Lady Gaga and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge went a long way towards normalising mental health issues, perhaps because those famous figureheads come from the celebrity environment that dominates our news and social media.
Mental health is now front and centre. Premier League footballers who have earned millions of pounds in their glittering careers open up about it. General Election debates hinge on it. Whether you are a rich sportsperson living in a mansion or a student in the first year of university, mental health problems can occur. It is a genuine illness that doesn’t pick and choose.
One of the best things about this issue becoming ‘mainstream’ is that it has sparked something of a call to arms. There has never been more help, advice and guidance out there. The calendar is filled with events encouraging people to seek support, often led by innovative charities looking to transform lives.
Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity, is one such example. Its dedicated team work with students, service users, professionals and academics to constantly come up with new ways of improving learners’ mental health.
By equipping young people and members of the university network with the skills, knowledge and self-confidence to look after their mental health and support others, they are creating change and giving those in higher education the best possible chance of succeeding in their endeavours.
With a strong emphasis on prevention, Student Minds aims to educate youngsters on how to put together their own ‘wellbeing toolkit’.
You can’t put a price on this kind of support. There is a lot going on in the life of a student, many of whom are at an age when everything around them is changing. The challenge of pursuing your academic dreams whilst balancing a social life, often some distance away from friends and loved ones, cannot be underestimated.
The great news is, it’s a challenge that is no longer dismissed or brushed under the carpet. Mental health problems can have an impact on anyone’s life. It doesn’t matter if you appear young, fit and healthy to the outside world – they don’t know what’s going on in your mind.
The taboo is gone, and help is at hand. There has never been a better time to join the conversation.