Mental health complications can be tricky enough to deal with without the additional stress of assessments, mandatory tutorials and just having to be around other people in general. During my time at uni I’ve discovered that not only do a significant amount of my peers struggle as much as I do to balance uni commitments with staying on top of their mental health, but also that there are a lot of different ways to facilitate for this and make the ride easier.
Make sure your tutors are informed
It can be really scary speaking up and letting your tutors know what your situation is, but most tutors would rather you give them a heads up from the get go rather than frantically emailing them two days before an assessment is due. I can confirm from experience that waiting until the last minute hugely adds to pre-existing stress and it is totally worth just telling them either during your first tute or via email. The majority of tutors will be totally understanding and grateful that you’ve let them know in advance.
This also applies to later on in the semester if you find you’re having a particularly rough time. If you don’t think you’ll be able to complete a certain assessment task on time or fulfil your tutorial attendance requirement it’s a really great idea to email your tutor just letting them know that you’re not doing too great and need to take some time to focus on looking after yourself and getting back on track. It’s recommended that you provide some documentation to support this, which leads to another thing you can do to make things easier for yourself…
Get registered with SEDS
SEDS, or Student Equity and Disability Support, provides assistance to students with disabilities and allows them to be granted with the necessary provisions to place them on a level playing field with everyone else.
To do so, all you have to do is get your GP/psychiatrist/psychologist etc. to fill out this form outlining your situation, book an appointment with the Disability Liaison Unit here, or alternatively fill out an online registration form here. Easy!
Also, if you haven’t yet seen a GP about your mental health complications, or you’re looking for a new one, Melbourne Uni’s health services bulk bill, have counsellors within the medical clinic and also have agreements with psychologists/psychiatrists in East Melbourne ensuring that as long as you have a Medicare card you won’t have to pay a dime to talk things through with a registered professional. They’ve also conveniently introduced online booking in case phone calls aren’t your thing!
All of this stuff can be kind of scary but it’s never as bad as you think it will be. The first time I went to my GP to get documentation I burst into tears as soon as they asked why I was there, but it was okay in the end! I survived and I never have to do it again and now I feel like this pug 80% of the time.
Make the most of the Disabilities Department
Finally, UMSU’s Disabilities Department is more than equipped to deal with any questions you have, point you in the right direction or even just lend an ear when you need it. Facing mental health issues in an environment as fast-paced and busy as university can feel pretty daunting and isolating at times, but the Disabilities Department ensures that you’ll never have to feel completely alone in whatever it is you’re dealing with. The department also runs a Disability Collective and an Anxiety Support Group so you can meet other people who are dealing with similar issues!
Overall, the most important thing to remember is that your mental health takes priority over everything else. Being a uni student often comes hand in hand with pressure from parents, tutors and yourself to do well, and it’s easy to forget that your mental health matters a whole lot more than your grades do. Make sure you look after yourself and don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it!
NB: I’ve tried to make this post as inclusive as possible, but I apologise if anyone feels excluded and welcome anyone who feels this way to point any problems out and I’m more than happy to make amendments to the post! Also, this post is merely a guide based on personal experience and not solid information.