10 October 2021 landmark
International students are offered access to various resources such as university support services in order to help them maintain balance and adjust. Starting a new life while focusing on your education far away from home and even your country is never easy.
The new social and academic environment can easily get overwhelming for an international student and has the potential to affect your mental and physical well-being. Add to that a once-in-a-century pandemic that has largely changed the way we experience life in general poses a further bearing to these students.
Even though prospective international students in India might not consider mental health services when they pick out a university or a college, it is of extreme importance for them to be aware of what kind of support is available and how it can help them before they select a school. Here is the top mental health advice for international students:
Ensure that you respond to the school outreach
A lot of colleges globally have increased their communication to international students on well-being and health during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are using more interactive technology such as social media platforms, text messages, and Whats App.
Many institutions frequently perform mental health checks for international students to make sure that they are doing well. Universities often share a lot of resources using email, and hence it becomes important for students to go through these regularly.
It is recommended that students check their emails once a day. You just need to pay attention to the communication from the student services office, the international student office, and your academic program. Universities are trying to work hard to help you connect with resources, activities, other students, and even counselors.
Try volunteering and participating in different community service programs
Volunteering and in particular participating in various community service programs is generally important, but it gets top priority during uncertain times that follow the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 outbreak affected basically every single person in some way and you can always find a cause related to the pandemic that you personally relate to.
Whether you want to be involved in encouraging vaccines in your community or you want to support an ongoing food drive, if you find what you relate to, doing good will make you feel good. Not to mention the feeling of a community builds during troubled times.
You will meet new people, engage with them while giving back and create positive feelings in the process. The feeling of not being alone and going through a hard time together can significantly help you in protecting your mental health.
When you get involved in community activities off-campus, you also witness a lot of things happening in real-time. This experience can help you in conditioning yourself for the real world, both personally and professionally. However, you need to ensure that you follow all health and safety protocols whenever you come in close contact with anyone.
Get back in touch with the great outdoors
One surprising positive effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is the fact that people are now pushed to be outdoors more. For an international student, being outdoors also means being able to travel and explore more of the country and its terrain. Nature is calming and healing.
For most of the last year, we were all trapped indoors and have in many ways adapted to isolate ourselves and stay inside. In safe ways, by keeping the protocols in mind, you can always get back to the things that offer your life meaning and purpose.
You should ideally try to spend as much time as you can in the fresh air and in and around nature. Even being around the city greenery can promote mental health and wellness. Try to take an outdoor walk every day or pick up a sport. It will help in calming down your nerves and make you feel happier and more relaxed.
A lot of universities throughout the world have specific resources aimed at catering to international students. You can always look these up on their websites that generally have separate pages about the mental health support services offered. Many schools also prefer discussing these services with international students before they even enter the campus.
They offer online orientations that are mandatory that deal with common cross-cultural adjustment issues such as loneliness, stress, cultural shock, academic and social environment and introduce the kinds of support students will have access to which generally includes counseling.
Overall, as an international student, you need to be proactive about mental health. Try to implement some key healthy behaviors. International students must do their best in trying to prevent severe mental health problems, but at the same time, you need to find help early.