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Asking for help – when is it a good idea to seek support?

 If getting through your course feels like a struggle to survive, there are people who can help

Being a student nurse is tough. Finding your course stressful does not mean you are not cut out for nursing. It means that you take your nurse training seriously and want to do well in your career, not that you aren’t capable.

As a student nurse, you have a lot on your plate and all too often this can make you feel run-down and stressed. It’s when these feelings are constant and you start to feel depressed or overly anxious that it might be time to ask for help.

When might you feel particularly low?

- Work pressure. Deadlines are stressful but if a looming deadline feels impossible to meet and you are feeling irrationally worried then speak to your tutor about it. You won’t be the first to approach them. If you don’t think you’re going to be able to get your work done on time then the sooner you tell your university about it the better.

Your personal tutor is there to offer you additional help if you need it.

- Relationship breakdown. The end of a relationship can be particularly stressful and make it harder to concentrate on your studies. You might feel as though you’ve lost some of the support you had. Relate (www.relate.org.uk) is a charity specialising in relationship advice and might be able to help you deal with your situation.

- Family problems. This can be particularly difficult if you are living away from home.

- Feeling physically unwell. Feeling tired and run down can really affect your mental state. Also, if you do feel run down this might be a sign that you are taking too much on.

- Home sickness. Being away from home, your family and friends for the first time is never going to be easy. Staying in touch is really important but make sure you put the effort in to your new life as well.

Who can help?

Your first port of call when things start to get on top of you is probably your friends and family. A supportive group of peers can make all the difference, particularly if they’re in the same boat and understand what you’re going through.

But sometimes it can be more helpful to speak to a stranger who is removed from the situation. This is where counseling can help.

What is counseling?

Counseling is spending time with a person who is trained to listen to your problems in a non-judgmental manner. They are not there to offer advice but will help you explore your own feelings and the options available to you. They will give you the opportunity to vent your thoughts and feelings without putting pressure on you.

Your university will offer a counseling service for students, you can speak to your personal tutor or have a look on the university website.

You can also visit your GP who can refer you to a counseling service, or go on www.itsgoodtotalk.org.uk where you can find out more about counseling and about services in your area.

If you don’t want to speak face-to-face…

Some people find it hard to speak to a stranger face-to-face about their concerns. The Samaritans offer a free 24-hour a day support line which is open to everyone. Phone counseling can make it easier for some people to open up about how they’re feeling as it gives you the control to end the call whenever you like and you can be completely anonymous.

  • Samaritans helpline - 08457 90 90 90

They also have an email service. Writing down your problems can help you to process how you’re feeling and it can be really helpful to get someone else’s take on what’s going on.

It’s true what they say – Talking helps. If things are getting on top of you, don’t keep it to yourself, there are people out there with the knowledge and skills to support you.

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