The start of university is for some freshers a chance to socialise, make new friends and live independently for the first time.
For others, it’s an emotional roller-coaster with feelings of homesickness, anxiety about meeting people and nervousness about whether you’ve made the right choice of university.
But the pandemic has brought a whole new set of challenges, and the experience of university is going to be very different for the hundreds of thousands of students arriving on campuses across the country.
Some students are already facing isolation after coronavirus outbreaks on campus, while others have been told teaching would be online. There’s even the prospect that students may be confined to their halls of residence over the festive period because of cases on campus.
All of which can have an impact on young people’s mental health.
Mark Fudge is the chair of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy’s (BACP) Universities and Colleges Division and a university counsellor.
He has put together his top tips for students to look after their wellbeing.
“Make space to communicate with the people in your social bubble. Invite them for a walk around your new environment.”
Structure your time
“Create a structure for your time. Be sure to add times to study but also time to rest and reward yourself.”
Feeling anxious is okay
“Accept that everyone around you is feeling anxious at the moment. Feeling uncertain when facing a new situation is normal and will pass.”
Be kind to yourself
“Don't beat yourself up for not knowing where things are. Ask someone and explore your new surroundings.”
Other people are also struggling
“Accept that others might be struggling too, and this can affect their behaviour and expectations.
Coronavirus is impacting everyone
“See the bigger picture. Covid is creating uncertainty for everyone at the moment but is also teaching us to compromise, adapt and to be more emotionally resilient.”
Counselling can help
“Reach out. Your college or university has spent months planning for you to come back. Counselling services are still working and offering sessions remotely.”
“If you feel uncomfortable with a fellow student's behaviour, then make a member of staff aware. Feeling safe is important.”
To find a BACP-registered counsellor or psychotherapist, visit our therapists’ directory.