November 29, 2023
University is a great place to learn new things and meet great people. Unfortunately, for more than 50% of university students, it is also where mental health issues can be exacerbated. This blog aims to create a discourse about the different mental health battles that students face and shed light on the help that is available.

Being Honest About University

First, let’s discuss the challenges that many university students face that can impact their mental health. This is not to deter anyone from university, but to help anyone reading this acknowledge when they may need to reach out for help.


One major contributor to students’ mental health struggles is the mounting academic pressures that they face. 

As a Law student, I was reading an immeasurable amount of content – a lot of it being quite complex and in old English. When myself and my peers first started our degree it felt like we were trying to keep afloat until the next reading week. Even then, it didn’t relieve much as there was – what felt like – a limitless amount of reading to catch up on.

In other students’ cases, they dealt with imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome can be defined as ‘feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success’. It can cause people to suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that overrides any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.

Some students also deal with the pressure to academically succeed. Not all students work the same and at the same pace. Some need extra time and some just need to go over a subject more closely with their tutor the second time. When exams and essays are due, this can culminate in an overwhelming feeling of stress and inadequacy. 

These are some of the reasons why students may typically find themselves struggling to academically succeed at the beginning of their degree and sometimes even throughout.

Read our article on how you can have a successful start to a new term/academic year

Click here to find out how to overcome a sense of academic failure. 


Your Guide to Mental Health & Law

Find out more about mental health in the legal profession

Learn More

Career Progression

Figuring out what you want to do as a career can be very exhausting especially when you are pursuing a ‘competitive’ field. For those who have an idea of what they want to do, it can be mentally draining trying to find work experience and even more so, if faced with many rejections. 

One thing you will find at university is that many students struggle with the crippling feeling of comparison and feeling that they are not doing good enough because they don’t have any job prospects, whilst their peers do. For some students, they have no choice but to get a job after university for many pressurising reasons and it can be a struggle trying to balance that with studying for a degree.  

Find out how you can successfully balance making career applications with your university degree.

Check out these tips on how to deal with application burnout and knowing when to take a break.

Personal Finances & Cost of Living

Currently, in the UK there is a cost of living and housing crisis where students are experiencing the worst end of it. Some students can financially thrive and survive whilst studying, whilst others are not so fortunate. 

Check out our top tips on how to earn money as a student.

Personal Reasons

Several students may struggle with university due to more personal reasons like loss, relationships, personal health, disabilities, trauma, pre-existing mental health conditions, etc. Things like these can make studying at university unbearable and put students at an extreme disadvantage before even studying.

Read Ali’s tips for disabled law students.

Managing Your Mental Health

Here is some more advice/available help not captured in the linked resources:

1. Communicate with your tutors

In university, you will/should have a personal tutor that you are meant to meet a few times during the year. This is the person who will closely work with you to help you navigate your journey in university. One thing that causes us stress is not knowing what to do and this is why it is important to talk to people in your university. Your tutor, for example, will be able to direct you to where you need to go to get extra time for exams or will email your tutors to provide you with extra help. Sometimes, it’s just nice to be reassured by another person who we know actually understands. 

2. Contact your university’s wellbeing team 

Every university has a wellbeing team that offers a plethora of resources and support, such as free counselling, coaching, other free resources and so forth. The wellbeing team will probably be the best and most informed option to help you understand what you are dealing with and give your personal and specific solutions to help you cope whilst at university and beyond. It may seem daunting to take the first step to reach out to this ‘faceless’ thing, but it can provide you with many lifelines and help you feel better sooner.

3. Seek medical help

If your mental health situation no longer seems bearable and even disabling, you can also seek medical help and it is best to do so urgently. If you go through the wellbeing team, they will probably direct you to medical support, but you can also go directly.

Click here for more info on when to seek help for a mental health problem  

4. Reasonable adjustments & accommodations 

If your mental health is affected or is affecting your studies, you can apply for reasonable adjustments and/or accommodations. This can include extra time in exams, later submission dates, lenient marking considerations, etc. That’s why I encourage reaching out to your wellbeing team or seeking medical help because these accommodations are easier to get with things like medical notes, diagnoses, etc.

5. Don’t stay silent 

One of the worst, but understandable, things you can do is stay silent when you are struggling. For many reasons like fear, loneliness, not feeling understood, etc, it is easy for students to isolate themselves. Let me assure you that there is always someone who can understand and help with what you are going through. You are not alone and once you take that brave step to speak up, things can only get better from there.

Read more about why you shouldn’t isolate yourself at university and how you can stay connected to others.

Key Takeaways

University is a great place to explore your passions and dreams, meet incredible people and have incredible experiences along the way. That being said, it is important to create dialogues about the days and things that are not so great.

No two people will have the same experience at university and they will most certainly not work the same way. You should always remember that even though your degree can feel like a ‘one size fits all’ style of teaching, you can take control and be a student in a way that works best for you.

When you are deep in a mental health crisis, it is easy to not see a brighter day ahead. But that bravery and strength that has brought you this far and encouraged you to want to take care of yourself is all you need to get there.

Take every day at your own pace and give yourself space to go backwards and forwards, or even stand still. Your journey will happen in the way that works best for you.

Please make sure you are aware of the (immediate) available help for mental health crises.

Click here for (urgent) mental health support.


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