The Centre for Collegiate Mental Health noted that, of almost 120,000 Gen-Zs surveyed in the US in 2017, 62% suffer from anxiety, 50% from depression and 45.5% percent from stress. This is a significant rise from their Millennial and Baby Boomer predecessors. Anyone born after 1995 falls under this category and this rise in mental health statistics is alarming. Fashion students face their own unique challenges. Some of these include the time-intensive “manual labour” of sewing and chasing internships (mostly unpaid). Backstage Tales collate mental health advice as the new semester is in full swing and exam period is on the horizon to help you deal with extra pressure.
Make sure you find a comfortable working environment
An ever-inflating cost of education contributes to the amount of stress. Because of this, all students, not just those pursuing a fashion degree, set much higher expectations of themselves. In the UK alone the university fees are nine times more expensive than they were 15 years ago. The facilities at the universities, however, are always improving with fashion students now having access to 3D printers, large libraries, and media centres, advanced sewing machines, and all necessary tools for pattern cutting.
It is amazing and overwhelming at the same time. You need to make sure you find a comfortable working environment where you are free to experiment with your creative ideas and designs. Use the studios and workshop spaces when they are not overcrowded, or work in the comfort of your own accommodation.
Build relationships with your peers and tutors
As an introvert, I know this could be hard sometimes. However, the reality of working in creative industries is that a fair share of your success depends on people you know and connections you make. Make sure you don’t just complete the tasks given by your tutors, but also see them after classes to get to know them and get some mental health advice. In the long run, they will be the ones supporting you and rooting for you the most in the future.
“When I came to my first class I felt overwhelmed with the amount of people there, with their creative drive and passion for their work. I must admit, I was scared. But after a few weeks I asked one of my tutors for a 1-1 and she was so understanding. She was in my position many years back, so she gave me some great tips on how to make friends at a fashion school,” – Lianne, London College of Fashion.
Your classmates and friends will be able to understand the shared pressures better than anyone. Make sure you communicate with those who are going through the same things and support each other throughout. Just checking on someone who may feel down or stressed can help them tremendously.
Don’t be afraid to ask for therapy or mental health advice
“The APA 2018 survey found that 37 percent of Gen-Zs reported receiving help from a mental health professional. This was building on the CCMH’s earlier findings of a 30 percent increase in college students using counselling services over a six-year period between 2009 and 2015. A similar trend to the UK, where 94 percent of universities have experienced a rise in demand for counselling services between 2012 and 2017,” – The Business of Fashion.
Always remember that you are not alone seeking mental health advice. Going to university is a big change in your life. It is understandable that you may feel unmotivated, or even struggle with anxiety or depression. Whenever there is anything that interferes with your happiness or prevents you from achieving your goals, therapy may be able to help.
Don’t overwork yourself
Make sure to take necessary breaks. Working and thinking about uni work 24/7 is not healthy and can lead to you feeling stressed. Treat yourself to those occasional takeaways, meet up with friends outside of uni, get enough sleep, practice yoga and meditation. During the stressful exam period, my university also brought therapy dogs on campus. Even such occasional small study breaks can help your mental health significantly.
Was this mental health advice useful for you? Let us know in the comment section below.
Text: Irina Gorskaia
Images: University of Winchester, UAL