On World Mental Health Day, our Senior Welfare and Immigration Officer, Ratha Senthinathan, considers why good mental health is essential for a successful scholarship experience and highlights the support Scholars can access whilst studying.

Headshot of Ratha Senthinathan

Ratha Senthinathan, Senior Welfare and Immigration Officer at the CSC

Taking care of your mental health is always important, but it is now more important than ever. World Mental Health Day on 10 October is an opportunity to raise awareness of mental health issues and to remember that support is available if you need it.

Coming to the UK to study is an exciting and fulfilling opportunity, but it can also be challenging both academically and personally. If you are a new Scholar, it can be difficult to adjust to living and studying in a new environment. You may feel culture shock which is common when you first arrive in a new country. It is normal to miss home and have feelings of isolation or loneliness. It is important to understand which feelings are normal and to know where to find help if you need it. This may not be obvious as it can be difficult navigating a new system and there is often a lot of new information to take in. However, your university is here to support you and every institution has wellbeing services with a range of resources to help you throughout your studies. If you are unsure about which services your university offers, have a look on their website or put the name of your university into this online tool designed to help you identify what support services are available.

Whether you are a new or continuing student, things will seem different this year as we adapt to new ways of doing things. It has been a difficult year for all of us due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it can be particularly difficult when you are in a new country and learning new social rules. In order to help you adjust and find support during the pandemic, Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity, has developed Student Space which includes short articles on studying online, making new friends and improving your general wellbeing. There is also one-to-one support available if you feel you would benefit from it, so you can access phone, web chat, text message or email support depending on which method works best for you.

Throughout your studies, you may feel ups and downs and although we hope you will feel in control most of the time, there may be periods when you need further support. For example, it can be stressful academically and you may be worried about exams and assignment deadlines at certain times of the year. If you are a postgraduate research student, you may also experience a unique set of challenges. The Wellbeing Thesis is an online resource for postgraduate research students aimed at supporting mental wellbeing. There is something for everyone, no matter what stage of research you are at. Watching the videos is a good place to start to hear the perspectives of other students and supervisors, but it is worth exploring the website further to find top tips and ways of supporting yourself and gaining assistance from others.

Different things will work for different people and so it is useful to explore what feels right for you. It may be helpful to keep these resources in mind in case you need them at a later stage. You may also want to speak to someone outside of your university.

If you are worried about the way you are feeling or are struggling to manage a mental health condition, you should speak to your local doctor about getting further help. The mental health charity, Mind, also has information, which you can view on their website, on specific types of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, along with tailored guidance to help treat it. Everyone’s journey is unique, but whatever you are facing, remember that help and support is available. The most important thing is that you do not feel as though you are struggling alone. If you ever feel you need it, the Samaritans have a 24 hour service and can provide emotional support at any time of day.

The CSC is here to help Scholars throughout their studies and to support them to achieve their full potential. If you need help in identifying support that is available, please do feel free to reach out to Ratha by emailing welfare@cscuk.org.uk.