By Jenna Colaco
(See Part 1)
Mental health is just as important as physical health. The University has its own counselling service which is free to access, there may be a waiting list but this is generally shorter than the NHS waiting list. There are also many student-run welfare initiatives; many colleges have “peer-supporters” who are students trained by the counselling service to talk to other students about their worries and concerns. Within colleges, there are usually Deans of Welfare who oversee welfare in college who you can also speak to about concerns, if you wish to.
Oxford Nightline is an initiative to help students who want someone to talk to, it is run by volunteers and you can call up and just chat to someone between 8pm-2am. It can be really hard to admit that you’re struggling with any health problem, especially mental health problems, but there are people determined to help make things better. You can always consult your doctors before accessing mental health care and they can advise you about your options. We all have mental health and it is just as important as our physical health.
It is really important that you also take care of your dental health, something I didn’t really give much thought to when I first came to university! You should sign up to a dentist for check ups and treatment if you need things such as fillings whilst at university. If you wear glasses or contacts, it would be useful to look into local opticians that you can visit to keep up to date with eye tests and prescriptions. It is important to note that when you’re at university, you usually have to pay for your own dental appointments, glasses and sight-tests, which could be expensive. You may also be charged for any medical prescriptions you need. However, as a student, you may qualify for free NHS prescriptions based on your income, which is something you would need to apply for. The NHS has a guide which can help determine eligibility here. If you are struggling to afford the essentials at university, you should consult college and wider university funding — the university and your college should help make sure that you have the means to take care of yourself whilst you study.
Some students find themselves faced with more serious health problems whilst at university and it is always important to remember that your health comes first and getting better is the priority. Colleges can support you whilst you get more serious treatment and can also give you time off your studies, if that is what you need.
No one is going to be healthy all the time. It is normal to be unwell and there are people at university to help you when you do. The best forward planning you can do to make sure you can get the care you need is to make sure you know what is available to you and how to access it.
This post may not include all the things that you will need, but hopefully it is a good start.
Here is a link to a petition to allow people to register at more than one GP, this is particularly important for students who move between their home and university address. Please consider signing if this is something that you feel is important and something the government should consider: