How to protect your mental health after graduation

Written by Samantha Oates-Miller, Careers Insights and Graduate Support Assistant at the Careers Service

What is mental health?

Mental health is your psychological and emotional well-being. The charity Mind defines mental health as a spectrum, where:

  • Good mental health can help you to think positively, feel confident and act calmly.
  • Poor mental health can make the way you think, feel or act difficult to cope with. You might not enjoy things you normally like, might feel sad or angry for longer, or feel like you cannot control how you feel or behave.

Anyone can suffer from poor mental health or mental illness, so it is important to get support and remember that you are not alone.

How can poor mental health affect new graduates?

It’s not uncommon to experience mental health difficulties after leaving university, especially in wake of the pandemic. Challenges can arise such as if you’re struggling to get a graduate job, adapt to the workplace or relocate. If you are feeling low because of your job hunt, feel lost due to the change in structure, location or friendships, or simply feel unprepared for life after university, you are not alone. It is easy to lose confidence in yourself if you do not get a job immediately, or you may feel like you have lost your independence by moving home or feel isolated from the support networks you had at university.

Read about a UK graduate’s experiences of mental health in university and the workplace.

What can I do?

If you are struggling with your mental health, the best thing to do is make an appointment with your GP.

However, there are a few resources you may also find helpful:

The University’s counselling service has also compiled support and resources to help you with your mental health:

How can I look after my mental health while looking for a graduate job?

You may feel worried or overwhelmed when looking for graduate opportunities. The Careers Service is here to help. As a recent graduate you can continue to access the Careers Service for up to two years after you finish your course. This means that you can continue to benefit from CareerConnect, application advice appointments, and online resources like CareerSet, ShortList.Me and all the resources on our website. If you are struggling with your graduate job search, you can book a careers guidance appointment with a Careers Consultant to discuss your options and plan your next steps. Appointments are held via Zoom and can be booked via CareerConnect. To find out more about how the Careers service can support you as a graduate, check out our graduate careers pages.

For manageable steps to gaining skills and improving your CV, read how you can boost your employability over summer and ease your career worries with our concerned to confident pages. Read our blog on graduate resilience for more information about looking after your mental health during the transition out of university.

What should I consider while applying for jobs?

Whether your mental health condition is new or pre-existing, employers should make reasonable adjustments to support you at work. If you need guidance on how to disclose your mental health problem to an employer or potential employer, make a Careers Guidance appointment: students and graduates with a mental health condition can choose a 60 minute ‘Career planning with a disability or health concern’ appointment, to discuss disclosure, adjustments, or concerns. You can also read Target Jobs Equality and Diversity guide and look at the disability and mental health advice page on the website for more information, and advice on finding inclusive employers.

How can I look after my mental health in a new job?

If you are worrying about starting your job, read what to expect on your first day. You are not alone if you are struggling with your mental health: 62% of Gen Z have taken a mental health sick day, and 49% of students admitted their mental health declined after leaving university. If you are struggling with mental health or wellbeing at work, talking to someone can help. Does your employer have a buddy system, Occupational health department, wellbeing champions, or someone who you trust to talk to confidentially? Read about getting support and managing your mental health at work. You may be able to take a break, or find other strategies to help you cope better in your new workplace.

Remember, if you’re struggling with your mental health, help and support is available, and you’re not alone.

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