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Looking after your mental health during the summer holidays

It’s easy to experience a dip in our mental health at any time of year, including the summer.

For students, there’s almost a pressure to enjoy the summer because what have you got to be worried about?

Stereotypically it’s a time for young people to be relaxing and travelling but instead, for many, it can be daunting and they find themselves struggling mentally, feeling like there’s no one they can turn to for help.

During the holidays, students lose the structure, routine and, for some, the secure environment that education offers.

A survey from YouGov revealed that more than a quarter of students (27%) reported having a mental health problem of one type of another.

Depression and anxiety were by far the most commonly reported mental health illnesses, with 74% of those students declaring a mental health problem experiencing depression, anxiety, or a combination of the two.


Where to start? It’s a good idea to stay in touch with the new friends you’ve made at university and to catch up with friends from home too.

Once you’re back at home it can feel strange to have to work at the friendships made at university, when you’re used to just seeing each other around every day.

Making plans to catch up over the holidays can stop you from getting low and isolating yourself – if they live too far away make time to call or Skype one another.

Perhaps consider taking up a hobby, trying something you’ve always fancied doing. There are affordable options like drawing, starting a blog, gardening or cycling (someone you know has usually got a bike tucked away in the shed).

Photograph of a bicycle in front graffitied wall

If you’ve got a bit of money or you can borrow the equipment you need, you could try photography or sign up to a dance or cooking class.

You’ve probably heard it before but looking after your physical health can play a part in looking after your mental wellbeing. Even getting some fresh air is a good start. If the sun is shining it’s a good opportunity to start walking.

Exercising releases endorphins and boosts your mood.  Anything that will give you a sense of success and get you doing something productive is sure to help make your mood better.

Finding help

Sometimes it can feel like the world is closing in. If you find yourself struggling, and you need someone to talk to, the Samaritans can be contacted 24/7 on 116123. They are a great place to start even if you don’t feel like talking, they’re happy to stay on the line with you until you’re ready.

Photograph of a young man using a mobile phone

Another option is talking to a doctor. It’s worth noting that you should do this once you’re settled somewhere you’re likely to be for a prolonged amount of time, e.g. not at the end of a semester or holiday, but at home or university when you’ll be able to return for check-ups, reviews and perhaps to be referred to counselling or to start medication.

Time to Change has a great list of other useful organisations working in the field of mental health.

If you find yourself struggling with your mental health, at any time of the year, do try and reach out. There will be people who can help you, whatever the problem may be.


Catrin Hopkins

Catrin is the Communications Manager for NCMH and Cardiff University's Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics

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National Centre for Mental Health, Cardiff University, Hadyn Ellis Building, Maindy Road, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ

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