If we’ve learned nothing else from the past couple of months, it’s that it’s hard to support someone from a distance.
If you have a child heading to university in September you may already be thinking about ways to help them cope, as this could be the first time they’ve had to be financially and emotionally independent. Add to that a heavy workload and an irregular sleep pattern, and it’s easy to see how they could start to feel overwhelmed in those first few months.
That’s why it’s important to take steps to support your child’s mental health and wellbeing at university, as even the most confident, self-reliant students need someone to talk to now and then.
Here are five easy ways you can support your child’s health and wellbeing at university.
1. Lend an ear…
Chat to your child before they go about any worries they may have about university. This will help nip any unfounded concerns in the bud, as well as reassuring them that you’ll always be on the other end of the phone should they need someone to talk to (or to bolster their bank account!).
Once they’re away at university, stay in regular contact so you can keep an eye out for signs that they might be struggling.
2. Research university support services
Nowadays universities provide lots of services that will be there to support your child should they need it.
Check the university website and research the local district to find out about health and mental wellbeing services in their area - such as peer counselling, hotlines and support groups. It could even be a way for them to get to know new people at university.
3. Encourage them to be independent
Although no-one’s going to discourage their child from staying in regular contact, you should also encourage them to explore their independence while they’re away at university.
While some kids will be chomping at the bit to get away from home and live by their own rules, others will be a little less keen to fly the nest, and may need some reassurance to take advantage of their newfound freedom.
However – while a bit of independence is great, it’s always worth scheduling in semi-regular phone calls so they don’t drop entirely off the grid!
4. Help make sure they don’t starve
It’s hard to maintain a healthy diet, let alone when you’re living on a student budget and studying all the hours under the sun. Not only that, but this could be your child’s first time fending for themselves, and unfortunately we’re not all natural chefs…
But a healthy, consistent diet is going to be vital for them at university if they’re going to make the most of their studies.
Sending them off with some simple, cheap-to-make family recipes is an easy way to help them feel at home in their new surroundings. You could even prepare them a few home-cooked meals to keep in the freezer for when they’ve had a stressful day.
5. Send them off with a care package
Prepare a personalised “care package” for your child that will help them out in times of need – this could include items such as:
- A “solitary living” survival manual that provides guidance on everything from changing a lightbulb to setting your washing machine
- Spare toiletries, such as a few squares of toilet paper – for those REAL emergencies
- A fresh pair of underwear for when they don’t have time to do their laundry
- Their own personal “hangover cure” – whatever that happens to be!
- A couple of extra quid in cash for when their student loan is running low
Making sure your child is covered at university
If your child is starting university for the first time, have you checked their essential gadgets and belongings will still be protected? Check whether your contents are already covered by Endsleigh in their university accommodation here.
If you think they may need additional cover for their student gadgets and belongings, you can find out more about student insurance here.