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Exam season for students brings its fair share of challenges. From late-night revision to jam-packed schedules with tests, assessments, and submission deadlines - it’s easy to let your mental health take a backseat. However, this is the time when it’s even more important to prioritise wellbeing.

According to a recent Yugo survey, over one fifth (24%) of UK students reported that their state of mind has got worse since moving away from home, with an alarming 52% saying they have become more anxious as a result. It’s clear that mental health concerns among the current student population is an issue spread across all UK campuses.

Global student accommodation provider and brand, Yugo, shares its three top tips to help students look out for the signs of mental health distress. Recognising the signs of poor mental health in friends and peers at university is an essential way of supporting each other when things get tough. Sometimes, a simple conversation or gesture can make all the difference to someone struggling.

1. Personality changes

If someone who was previously bubbly, outgoing, and the life of the party becomes withdrawn, anxious, and disconnected from those around them, this can often be a sign that something is troubling them. Equally, if someone was previously quite reserved suddenly starts acting reckless, this can also be a sign of mental distress and struggles.

Try not to force the person to speak about how they’re feeling or press them for answers. Instead, let them know you’re always here, and invite them to casual, low-pressure situations, like a catch up over coffee, a trip to the cinema, or a quiet study session.

The main point here is to be there for your friend. Stress, anxiety, and even things like bereavement can trigger strong reactions in people – knowing they have a reliable companion by their side can make all the difference.

2. Changes to sleep or diet

Okay, so we’re not suggesting you monitor the hours your friends are sleeping, or their calorie intake. But, if you live with friends and notice one is sleeping more than usual, not eating enough, or regularly staying awake all night (and then powering through with caffeine the next day), it might be time to have a gentle word. Issues such as anxiety can cause insomnia, and depression may lead to increased hours spent sleeping – so these are behaviors to keep an eye on.

Look out for your friends by offering to help them get up at a regular time, or organising a food shop together so they can get some healthy groceries for cooking. If they are open to talking about what’s bothering them, lend them an ear for as long as they need, or suggest that they text or email if they feel more comfortable writing it down.

3. Loss of interest in activities

While we might all put things aside from time to time when we’re busy, when someone loses total interest in their passion – be it a sport, hobby, or volunteering – this might be cause for concern.

Encourage your friend to reignite their passion by inviting them along to a regular gathering, meeting, or match to give them an opportunity to attend if they’re struggling to find motivation or time. Helping someone get back in touch with something they care about can be a huge boost to their mental health, giving them space to unwind and relax, switching off from the stress of exams and studying.

Remember that mental health is a journey – supporting each other along the path is important and the best way to be supportive is to be open and without judgement in your conversations. Sometimes, all you need to do is let someone know you’re there.

As always, if you’re concerned about someone, you can speak to the Samaritans on 116 123 for free.

To find out more about Yugo, please visit here.