Can professional support help me?

Very often when people come to see a counsellor or wellbeing advisor, they say: “I’m not sure my problem is serious enough to take up your time.”  It can be hard to know when to seek professional help. Here are some guidelines.

Sadness

We all feel sad or down sometimes. A relationship ends; someone dies; we miss friends and family from home. Usually, feelings of sadness diminish over time and there are ways in which you can help yourself to feel better.  Often this is enough.  It’s OK to feel sad and upset when we know why we are feeling that way. It’s not pleasant, but it’s a normal human emotion.

How can I help myself?

Some ways of helping yourself feel better include:

When can professional support help?

Often, professional support is not required when dealing with common feelings of sadness. But you may need to see a counsellor or wellbeing advisor if:

  • You feel down for a couple of months, with no clear reason for the feelings
  • You are coping with a major life-event such as death, illness or divorce

If you think you need professional support you should register with us.

Anxiety

Whenever we face a new situation, try something new or go into an unfamiliar social situation, anxiety is normal. You may think you’re the only person feeling anxious about making a presentation on your course, or asking a person out on a date – but you’re not! Accepting anxiety as a normal part of life is an important part of maturing. 

How can I help myself?

Some ways of helping yourself feel better include:

When can professional support help?

Often, simple relaxation techniques can help you manage anxiety, especially when combined with awareness that anxiety is normal for all human beings when faced with new situations. But you may need to see a counsellor or wellbeing advisor if:

  • You feel so anxious that you simply cannot attend lectures or socialise
  • You are coping with a major life-event such as death, illness or divorce

If you think you need professional support you should register with us.

Homesickness

Coming to university, especially for the first time, is a big step. It would be strange if you didn’t feel a bit homesick. Usually, with time this passes and Birmingham starts to feel more and more familiar. You will be meeting people from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures and you may feel somehow ‘out of place’ and perhaps that you ‘don’t belong’ here. These are difficult thoughts and feelings, but they are not insurmountable! Remind yourself that many others have felt the same way and gone on to achieve great things at this university. 

How can I help myself?

Some ways of helping yourself feel better include:

  • Talking to people and making friends
  • Join societies at the Guild or in the local community
  • Keep up with hobbies, sporting interests and faith communities that you enjoyed at home
  • Don't spend too long alone in your room.  If you are in halls, invite others in for coffee, or suggest an activity you enjoy for others to join in with
  • Try not to go home every weekend.  The more you are away from Birmingham, the less chance that you will meet people who can become your friends

When can professional support help?

Homesickness usually passes with time - people sometimes need between 4 and 6 months to really start to make friends and settle down. But you may need to see a counsellor or wellbeing advisor if:

  • You are feeling so homesick that you are thinking of leaving university

If you think you need professional support you should register with us.

Academic work difficulties

The transition to degree-level work after A-levels can be daunting. Often, work is less structured and there is less feedback. You need time to get used to this. Talk to other students on your course. Talk to your tutors.  They are there to help you adjust. Beware of working too hard because you then risk ‘burn-out’. Make sure that you plan plenty of social time, relaxation time, and exercise time in your week. This keeps you in balance and helps you to work more effectively. 

How can I help myself?

You might want to read information on:

When can professional support help?

Usually the best people to help you with academic problems are your personal and your welfare tutor. But you may need individual support if:

  • You are struggling so much with academic work that you may actually fail your course

If you think you need professional support you should register with us.

Guidelines for other issues

Accepting life’s challenges as normal is important. Knowing that others may feel the way you do at times can help to reduce your own fears that your reactions are ‘not normal’.  

How can I help myself?

Some sources of support that you can access on your own are:

  • University support pages
  • The Self Help Guides produced by the University which provide practical advice and support for a range of issues that may be affecting your sense of wellbeing.
  • The Wellbeing Collection in the main library is a set of books which provide advice and support for a whole range of different issues from depression to anxiety, relationships to sex.  The collection is located in the short-loan section of the main library on the ground floor. 
  • Develop self-compassion: we tend to be very hard on ourselves when we are struggling with difficult situations or feelings.  Test how self-compassionate you are here and check out suggestions on the rest of that site for developing a kinder, more compassionate stance towards yourself

You can also access other services which specialise in working with issues affecting young people

  • Birmingham Healthy Minds: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Depression and Anxiety, both individual and group work.  Free to access.
  • Your GP:  your doctor can refer you on to psychiatric services, and is the gatekeeper to all specialist psychological services in Birmingham.  Find your local GP here.  Many students living close to the University register at the University Medical Practice or at the Varsity Medical Practice.
  • If you have been the victim of a sexual assault, you may wish to contact Horizon SARC (Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Support) for confidential advice/counselling/screening:  their 24 hour helpline number is 0808 1685698

When can professional support help?

Usually, for most of us, the best form of support comes from people who know us: friends, family, tutors, and people we meet in our daily lives. But you may need to see a counsellor or wellbeing advisor if:

  • You feel down for a couple of months, with no clear reason for the feelings
  • You feel so anxious that you simply cannot attend lectures or socialise
  • You feel so homesick that you are thinking of leaving university
  • You are struggling so much with academic work that you may actually fail your course
  • You are coping with a major life-event such as death, illness or divorce
  • You feel unable to deal with troubling behaviour or thoughts
  • You have had a traumatic experience of some kind

If you think you need professional support you should register with us.

Outstretched hand

Check out our understanding and handling difficult emotions presentation

Difficult emotions affect us all.  With self-compassion, humour and realistic expectations of what life is really like, we can give ourselves the opportunity to grow and mature - even when times are really tough.

Handling-difficult-emotions (PDF - 1.79MB)

 

self help guides

Self Help Guides

The University has produced a series of self-help guides which provide practical advice and support for a range of issues that may be affecting your sense of
wellbeing.

Wellbeing Collection logo

Check out the wellbeing collection 

The Wellbeing Collection is a set of research-based publications (both print and ebook) which provide support and advice for coping with a range of psychological and emotional issues which commonly affect students.