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Student experiences: Supporting well-being while at university

This year, Student Minds Bath have reached out to students about what has helped protect their mental health while juggling the responsibilities of university life. We hope that hearing others’ experiences can be valuable to student readers, both in demonstrating that finding things overwhelming is common, as well as providing examples of things you can do to support yourself. We are so grateful to everyone who contributed and hope you enjoy hearing from students as much as we have.

We found that many students emphasised the value of different societies and activities for their wellbeing. This ranged from sports to creative pursuits to volunteering and affirmed the value of extracurriculars to provide a sense of community and identity outside of academic courses. Students also discussed self-compassion and mindfulness techniques, which are increasingly becoming discussed in the media and feature in undergraduate modules on psychological well-being at Bath and Yale University.

We recognise that these submissions discuss positive experiences, despite the reality of at least 16% of students struggling with serious mental health difficulties. We are aware that national and university services have a way to go, but we hope that the article can be a supportive tool despite this.

If you are struggling with your mental health, please reach out to:

Emergency – The Samaritans 116 123

                      SHOUT 24/7 text-based volunteer crisis support line – text 85258

General-          Student Support: studentsupport@bath.ac.uk, +44 (0)1225 383838. Based in the Roper Centre.

If you want to get involved with Student Minds, follow us on Instagram @studentmindsbath or email us at studentminds@bath.ac.uk.


Sofia Onate Fernandez (University of Bath VAware Project Leader)



Being the project leader of VAware, one of the amazing VTeam volunteering groups has boosted my well-being in various forms. Volunteering is a great opportunity to meet new people and continually challenge yourself, but most importantly, support your community by promoting a safe and welcoming environment that everyone can consider ‘Home’. 

Leading projects for VAware has enabled me to disconnect from the hectic university life and assessments, delivering awareness workshops on healthy relationships; and helping to break the cycle of abuse one project at a time. The role has also encouraged my creativity, a quality that I consider limited nowadays from social media, by organising interactive projects on campus. This included making roses from paper on Valentine’s Day to promote healthy relationships and raise donations for FearFree, a charity offering support to victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence.

I thrive in volunteering events. I love to see the joy it brings to others, with everyone dedicating their energy to a collective good cause; helping bring the community together. For this reason, I encourage all Bath students to nominate themselves for next year’s VTeam Project Leaders, Committee members and volunteering positions.

Elena 

Since being at Uni, one of the greatest supports to my mental well-being has been getting creative. I love writing and for the past two years, I have led a small writing group for National Poetry Writing Month. This has been incredibly encouraging, as we have shared things we care about and got closer as a whole. I find people often turn to creativity because they want to be heard and seen. It’s been super exciting to see the spoken word, comedy and grassroots theatre scene blossom in Bath and Bristol, making it the perfect time to get involved! There are also opportunities on campus for a wide array of creative pursuits, with SU-run workshops, Fine Art, Photography, Literature, dance and many more societies (I’ll also include STEM societies for unconventional creativity) and opportunities to pitch and perform student-run shows with BUST and BUSMS.

Praveen Rajeevan

Growing up, I’d heard about meditation and its benefits but always had my reservations. When considering the sheer number of meditation practices, it was hard not to feel overwhelmed with where to begin. That’s when I heard about the university’s meditation society. At the time I was a first-year student naive to the pressures of university life. Ultimately those pressures caught up to me. With multiple deadlines closing in, I was at my wits end on how to deal with all the stress. That’s when I bit the bullet and finally decided to give Meditation Society a go. What I ended up finding was beautiful: I found a place to deal with real-life problems, a place to belong. I found a community. This society is very welcoming of beginner meditators with no experience- so for those of you who may be struggling, why not try meditation society? Who knows, you might just make a friend along the way.

Olivia Simmonds

I was the fresher who fell into the trap of heavily comparing myself to flatmates and coursemates and believing that because I didn’t find my people on the first night (and even the first semester!), I had failed at uni. My mental health hit lower than low, but through persistence, positivity, and a lot of self-development, I’m finally approaching my most confident self yet. For me, a major help in this has been downloading positive affirmation apps, actively finding gratitude or a silver lining in absolutely everything (I promise it’s possible) and acting positively towards myself and others. Some of it seemed a bit unbelievable at first, but I stuck with it and added both gratitude and positivity into my everyday routine. I now find it so easy to see the good in things even if it’s not an ideal situation. Affirmations might seem cringe or silly initially, but really stick with them as I did and I can almost guarantee you’ll elevate your uni experience in the gorgeous city of Bath, and even more, your self-appreciation.

Holly Platt, Student Minds Secretary

As a neurodivergent student with a chronic illness, I find that my approach to looking after my well-being is intertwined with these aspects of my identity. As much as we are encouraged at university to pursue new opportunities, I think it’s just as important to learn how to set boundaries with the number of commitments we take on to avoid burnout. Organising my plans for each day helps me to maintain a balance between being busy at university and being at my house in a comfortable space where I can decompress and take care of myself.

Adopting a self-compassionate mindset has also helped my well-being. As my default mode of thinking is to be critical of myself when I make a mistake, I try to catch myself when I fall back into unhelpful thought processes and instead remind myself that it is okay for me to make mistakes and fail, as these are fundamental parts of being human. I also remind myself that I don’t need to “earn” rest or permission to take a break – having restful moments in each of our days is so important for our minds and bodies to reset and prepare for what comes next.

Olivia 

I love korfball. If you’ve met me, I have probably tried to persuade you to join the club. When a friend said she was starting a new club for this Dutch sport – which is a bit like basketball or netball, but it’s mixed, and the hoop is 3.5m off the ground – I agreed to join, thinking she was kidding. Now I have played twice a week since it started. I am no athlete, but it has allowed me to be active in a very low-stakes and unserious environment. There is no way I would have had the confidence to get on a minibus at 7 am to go and play a tournament of a sport I am really not very good at, had I not agreed to join this club. Every day I am amazed that Korfball turned out to be real and grateful for its unexpected but wholly positive presence in my life.

Anangsha Haldar, M.Sc. Applied Clinical Psychology

The journey of adjusting to student life at the University and calling the city of Bath home has been so challenging yet rewarding. Apart from the usual bouts of homesickness, I thought I was doing well in terms of balancing lectures, doing groceries, and settling into my new room. Still, slowly, without realising, I found the demands of academia and the continuous gloomy weather started to catch up to me. I slowly stopped venturing out of my residence, began skipping meals and languished in bed for hours. Eventually, I mustered up the courage to speak to my personal tutor about the issues that I was facing. I took her suggestion of seeking help from the Student Support Team and talked to one of the counsellors, which I found pretty relieving. Her efforts to check in with me highlighted the supportive nature of the faculty in my department. Overall, it positively impacted my perception of the university and taught me the importance of reaching out.

Mahala Smith

Something that has greatly helped my mental well-being at uni is being part of the tennis society, as it’s such a social sport and I have been able to meet loads of people. As a result, it has helped me branch out and get involved with different groups, which is a nice escape from academic pressure. Sometimes it really helps to spend time with people who don’t do the same course as you! 

Another benefit is obviously the physical activity, which is not only good for your health but is such a good way to relieve the stresses of a long day, or simply break up a day on campus and make you feel more productive. Lastly, the socials have become a massive part of my uni experience, and I have really enjoyed regularly getting to spend time with a lovely group of people. There is a misconception that sports socials only involve drinking, but I have found there is no pressure to drink, and socialising is great for my well-being!

Maia Mountain

I chose to give myself a goal when I first joined uni as a promise to myself that I would stay active and go outside every day for at least an hour. That goal was to run a 155km ultramarathon in February 2024. This gave me the opportunity to join the Bath Endurance Society and make new connections, as well as a sense of purpose and community. I used this run to fundraise for the mental health charity MIND, which has since raised over £13600. By picking a goal for myself, I was able to put myself out there and keep myself busy.

I feel like this could be applied to many people for whatever activity interests them. Sport is such a key part of wellbeing, and we are lucky to have such good facilities in Bath. So, whether it’s a hot girl walk with your friends once a week or playing for a first team, exercise is an easy way to get out of your room and get some endorphins whilst socialising with others, and hey, it could have the bonus of helping raise money for charity.

Mia Beastall

For many of us, moving to university is the first time we must support ourselves, independent of a carer or guardian. As I began this period of new responsibilities, I found that self-compassion became more vital for supporting my well-being than ever before. Characteristic to many other university students, I tend towards perfectionism and high standards: a sometimes dangerous recipe for burnout. With new domestic responsibilities, I noticed I was becoming increasingly tired and no longer able to maintain the same amount of productivity as at home. I found it helpful to practise self-compassion. I am trying to accept my increased need for rest days and treats, as it is often too easy to be self-critical of ourselves for not completing to-do lists. I have found it is fundamentally important for supporting my well-being that I show the same kindness to myself as I would do to others.

Jibraan Kidwai, 2nd Year Psychology Student at the University of Bath

After moving to Bath as an international student, the community that I have found here is definitely the most important factor that has helped my mental well-being. From the pastoral care provided by the Imam (Muslim community and faith leader) at Bath Mosque to the Bath University Islamic Society and my friend group, my well-being is always prioritised and well-supported. Some other important factors that help my mental well-being are the various mental health support facilities provided by the university like the Roper’s Centre, Wellbeing Support Services and Nightline. I also go for frequent walks in the green areas surrounding campus and discuss things that may be bothering me with a friend. Overall, the community, my friend circle, and the mental health support that I have in Bath not only help support my mental well-being but also make the university experience more fun and meaningful.



What is Student Minds Bath?

Student Minds Bath is a student-led group committed to supporting university students with their mental health and well-being on and off campus. To achieve this, the committee runs several campaigns and events on campus and online to raise awareness and create positive change around the importance of mental health and well-being for students. The group acts as a connecting point between the student population and the university’s wellbeing services, and being an approachable face within the student body makes talking about mental health easier and more accessible for students. 

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