How can International Students move forward from Mental Health Issues?

Mental Health Issues in International Students: What You Can Do to Move Forward

Leaving your home nation and moving to Australia for further studies is both daunting and exciting. You will meet new friends and study in new surroundings, you will encounter interesting places and people, and all this is great. However, this comes with its own set of challenges for international students: homesickness, juggling assignments, work and social life, and managing your personal health, physical, emotional and mental. 

With a growing number of international students with mental health issues and deviant social behaviours and/or suicides as the result of those issues, the excitement of studying abroad is being curtailed to the point that there is nothing left in the world that makes you tick. It doesn’t matter if you have just landed here or have been here for quite some time, you will feel down and out sometimes. It is what you do to overcome that which shows your true strength, and it will set your life towards a brighter tomorrow.

There are several things or areas of life to keep in balance so that you can ensure your well-being, and while it may sound simple, these are the things, when not maintained or balanced, which slowly and consistently chip away at your mental well-being.

  1. Familial Ties 

You will meet many new people once you come to Australia, be it at your university/college, work, or neighbourhood, and you will develop new connections that will sometimes last well beyond your expectations. However, you should make a point of maintaining regular contact with your friends and family back home, as they are your best support network. You should have the comfort of falling back to familiar relationships if you are feeling down, and that’s exactly what your friends and family back home provide you. 

  1. Romantic Relationships

Many students travel to Australia while their girlfriend/boyfriend, fiancé or spouse is back home. This separation creates pressure unimaginable and manifests as jealousy, fights or arguments with your significant other. Even when your s/he is here with you, this can happen as a result of an imbalance in your work, study and social life. Staying on top of this lifts a large burden off your shoulder and lets you focus on other things, and serve as an encouragement to go on and do better with your life.

  1. Finances

From tuition fees and textbooks to rent, bills and transport, Australia is not a cheap place to study and live. When you don’t stay atop your finances, this will cause you significant stress whenever the time comes to pay your fees or rent or other bills. This compounds when you need to earn a lot of money in a short time span. You need to plan your earnings and spending carefully so that you will have enough money when you need it. Not having to worry about your finances incessantly is a freedom unlike any other in life.

  1. Physical Health

Staying physically healthy in new surroundings can be tricky but is necessary for your mental health. Staying fit is an easy way to uplift your mood and relieve stress. You can find a team sport you are interested in, go to the gym or even take a leisurely walk around your block so that you can maintain your general health. This will help loads to improve your confidence, outlook and overall self-esteem.

  1. Self-Respect

Moving to a new country and figuring out everything on your own changes your outlook on life. During this transition, your view of yourself may also change. If this takes a negative turn, this will create a whole lot of problems for your mental well-being. Owing to the topics we covered above, you might view yourself as a failure and might beat yourself up. This can also happen when you compare yourself to others, especially on social media. You should focus on surrounding yourself with people you respect and love and who respect and love you back is very important for your overall betterment.

What you should understand is that facing mental health issues is not out of the ordinary and can happen to everyone. For first-year students, these issues can be intensified in university/college settings and/or at work as well. Everyone has their own frame of mind, their own world, and you cannot compare yourself to the next person in this case. 

If you find yourself struggling with any issues, anything at all, please reach out and seek professional help. Your first step towards getting better through help is reaching out. You can start that by visiting your General Practitioner (GP), who in turn will refer you to specialists if you need any. And don’t worry about the costs for your GP, your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) covers the cost.

You can also always reach out to Lifeline at 13 11 14 for 24/7 support if you need to talk to someone. 

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