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How To Keep Mental Health In Check When In University

Written by CB Community

University students face several disadvantages that affect their personal well-being.

They are often far from home with minimal contact with their family members, something that’s a new course for most of them.

There is little oversight on their daily schedule, and they must manage their finances for the month independently.

All of that can take a severe toll on their mental health.

There’s no surprise that you often come across news articles detailing the adverse state of mental health.

If you or someone in your social circle attends a college session, this is just the guide to help with mental well-being.

Personal Well-Being Of University Students

Students that pursue Master’s or Ph.D. degrees may have some experience with the college environment and a stable per-month income.

Yet, a large percentage of university students belong to Bachelor’s courses.

They are usually reliant on their parents to sustain their lifestyle, which creates a sense of dread as they look hard for promising career opportunities.

Moreover, since most of them belong to lower-income families, they have limited funds to afford creature comforts, sometimes even food.

All that constitutes worrying figures. A recent study conducted with 717 random students from various colleges in India found that more than 50% were suffering from common mental disorders.

Those disorders include stress, anxiety, depression, and similar illnesses. Thus, it becomes necessary to understand what factors affect the mental health of university students.

What Factors Affect the Mental Health Of Students?

Despite what magazines and Facebook articles tell you, a mental health disorder is highly subjective. It requires a different approach for each person, no matter which population group they belong to.

In the case of university students, the significant factors include the following:

Course Studies and Exams

Getting bad marks or not enough work to support their family remains a stigma for every student who pursues higher education.

Even though most would never use 90% of what they study in their job, they still have to go through brick-thick textbooks and a grueling evaluation routine to retain the pace of their program.

They have been told since childhood that high marks result in a good job, even though we have real-world data that shows a stark contrast to that notion.

Everything comes to a head during the exam season. It is not enough for students to work on good marks.

There is often cutthroat competition to make it to the top to secure the most desirable grades and, in turn, job offers.

That can prove too much to bear for some students, whose mental health can deteriorate to the levels of self-harm.

For instance, according to a new NCRB report, the problems of student suicide in India have increased by a third in the past four years.

More than 13,000 cases were reported in the year 2021 alone, with the primary reasons being examinations and family pressure.

Job Search

The struggles of job hunting can leave even experienced professionals feeling rejected, stressed, anxious, and overall pessimistic about the future.

Those feelings get amplified for university students who strive for work and become contributing members of society.

Repeated rejections per week can create a sense of depression, with several students even making questionable workplace decisions to fulfill their aspirations.

The harm to mental health can also occur with the fear of losing new desirable opportunities.

Most students often talk about only job security and pay scale, not realizing that workplace culture can significantly affect their mental health in the coming years.

Parental Expectations

Several studies found high parental expectations, emphasis on academic achievement, or feelings of not meeting parental expectations are associated with worse mental health.

In a country like India, those expectations can become toxic, regardless of the family background of any individual.

For people suffering from economic hardships, there is the hope that the youngster can join a decent workplace down the line. Maybe, they can elevate the family out of poverty.

On the other hand, students from well-to-do families talk of high expectations from any program.

Not scoring top marks even for a month is observed as a sign of weakness, despite a large margin from the failing standard.

Furthermore, there is a stigma of rewards and punishments that blackmails the students into achieving excellent scores for their parents to fulfill their material desires.

None of the described conditions provides healthy support to the person, which drives them to loneliness.

The lack of mental health awareness is also apparent in a community ignoring children’s mental disorders like ADHD and dyslexia as laziness.

Environmental Conditions

Your environment can determine the state of your physical and mental health.

It is tough to follow a fitness training and well-being schedule when the area you access is too humid or polluted.

University students can suffer from immense stress when they cannot focus. That stress can compound when they have to deal with social, medical, or political disasters around them.

The decline in the quality of studies throughout the world during the COVID pandemic is a notable example.

Physical environmental factors also affect the mental health of students. Those include considerations such as:

  • Air and water pollution

  • Sleep disturbances and deprivation

  • Exposure to toxins per week

  • Hazardous lab conditions

  • Extreme weather phenomena (drought, flooding, heatwaves)

How University Students Can Improve Their Mental Health

Now that you know about the factors that affect a student’s health, you can analyze the relevant solutions to improve mental health awareness and well-being against the problems that millions have no information about.

Fitness Training

‘A healthy mind resides in a healthy body.’ That doesn’t hold more for anyone than a university student burning the midnight candle just before mid-sems.

They may want to remain indoors to complete the syllabus for the year, but it might come at the cost of sacrificing fresh air and general fitness.

An excellent method is to work a specific time of day for physical training. The student need not care about weight training.

Simple exercises like crunches, planks, lunges, and aerobics, followed by some cardio, can help support their mental health.

If the students are concerned about exhaustion, they can refer to a local trainer to gain more health awareness.

Recreational and Extracurricular Activity

A program involving leisure or recreational activity is often seen as signs of privilege in a community.

But, it offers a fantastic opportunity to socialize, maybe even care physically to make the most of it.

Trekking trips, multiplayer video game tournaments, and movie sessions help build trust among various student groups that otherwise engage in unhealthy competition sessions.

Another way to refresh their minds is through extracurricular activities.

Yes, academics are important, but sports and hobby clubs are often more valuable in the broader context of any career.

Students who join such ventures learn team-building, coordination, resource management, and other skills that can help them progress in life.

A Healthy Diet

Recent surveys highlight that 73% of university students in India receive inadequate nutrition.

Incorporating good-for-your-mood foods takes some extra effort initially, but it is well worth it for university students.

While most want the staff to make the food, nothing beats the food they prepare for themselves.

Students can learn to prepare a week’s worth of chopped veggies and soaked and cooked beans in one session. So, DIY meals are easier to whip up with no risk of illness.

Those strapped for time can care for frozen or canned vegetables without salt. Brown rice, quinoa, or whole-grain couscous are light edibles that take less than 10 minutes to cook

A person can also try making small healthy food swaps, like trading white rice and bread for whole-grain versions. It helps increase good fiber in the body, which aids digestion.

A side salad packed with nuts, seeds, and colorful vegetables is better care than a bag of chips for lengthy study sessions.

General nutrition resources still apply. That means staying hydrated, not skipping meals, and being mindful of caffeine and alcohol information.

Both can directly impact the student’s mood or anxiety levels, leading us to the next section.

Refraining From Alcohol and Other Addictive Substances

The pressure of studies and new careers can be too much for a few teens to bear. That’s why they might try to numb the stress by consuming drugs and alcohol each week.

Even though the legal drinking age in countries like India and the United States is 21, many university students start consuming alcohol way before that.

Over time, it can develop into an addiction that brings loneliness and impacts the mental state of their adult life.

Drugs also constitute a troubling issue. While recreational drugs are under strict regulation, there is little the authorities can do to control the flow of medicinal variants.

Things start simple with a treatment to help the students suffering from loneliness stabilize their sleep cycles.

But, it can become addictive as they develop an illness to numb their senses instead of treatment.

Prolonged and uncontrolled consumption of analgesics can result in hormone imbalance, liver disorder, and cardiovascular complications, directly affecting mental health.


Meditation is a clinically proven method to improve the student’s personal well-being for both the short and long term.

An analysis by the University of Naples found that people who meditate for at least one hour each day reap several benefits over those who don’t.

Regular meditation increases focus, regulates blood flow, improves memory and motor skills, uplifts mood, and reduces the chance of illness for people in a college course.

Unlike other exercises, meditation doesn’t require visiting a designated location, staff, or special resources. You only require a comfortable posture and a quiet, free environment. Students can do it within their rooms during their free time or create a community that can seek a suitable space like a park or the library.

Can Professional Services Help With Mental Health?

Appropriate mental health awareness propagates from having access to the necessary resources, especially for the ones contemplating suicide.

Thus, it helps to have information on a local helpline and counseling services readily available.


The solutions mentioned above can also prove fruitful after you undergo online courses conducted by experts in the field.

About the author

CB Community

Passionate members of the College Basics community that include students, essay writers, consultants and beyond. Please note, while community content has passed our editorial guidelines, we do not endorse any product or service contained in these articles which may also include links for which College Basics is compensated.