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Mental Health Week: Is it enough to simply care?

We asked on our Instagram @basta_unima about mental health whilst in University, 62% of students said they did not feel their mental health is fully supported by the University Mannheim 

It’s mental health week at Uni- Mannheim. All Week long we have seen instagram posts and website updates telling us that we ‘are never alone’ and that we should ‘speak up’ if we feel our mental health is struggling. But is it enough?  

Half a million German students suffer from some sort of mental illness, but here in uni Mannheim students still face a lack of obvious and sufficient support in regards to their mental wellbeing. Students seeking information regarding the services and supports provided by the university are faced with an unfriendly labyrinth of website links which lead to an unsatisfying list of impractical results. The options that are available are underwhelming; with long waiting lists for the rarely available counselling spots and few alternative options regarding immediate help. Students in universities around the world live through annual “Mental Health Week“, during which their university flaunts a programme of activities to ‘destress’ and teach students how to ‘manage their mental health’. We’ve all seen it before, we all know exactly what I’m talking about. 

Nevertheless, it’s important to acknowledge that this week is often organised by student union bodies, who are responsible for representing the effort of improving student mental health but lack the power and funding to make any substantial institutional change. So I acknowledge that Asta only has so much power, and I thank them for what they have done. I for one know that watching the screening of Little Miss Sunshine on Wednesday will leave me in a great mood.

This article has not been written with the intention of discouraging those who do avail of the services provided by the university, if they are helping then i am delighted! The courage to ask for help is only multiplied when the help is limited – so well done and keep going! Instead I want to encourage you to ask for more. Demand that higher authorities prove they care, demand extra funding, demand extra support, make them prove the things they say during these weeks of strong words and no actions!

This is also not an attack on the student unions, who admittedly are doing their best, instead it is an attempt to highlight the general attitude towards mental health in all colleges. How have we gotten to a place where overwhelming stress and burnout are considered normal? Twice a year we push ourselves as far as we can for end of term exams- students sit in the library for over twelve hours every day – running on three monster energy drinks and four hours of sleep. And we pretend that it’s normal! 

The attitude surrounding the limits of our mental health and how we treat them is unlikely to change in the academic sphere. Universities need to care more about their students’ wellbeing the other 51 weeks of the year. The Government needs to allocate more funding to mental health. I’m not going to be able to convince such colossal institutions to care, not with this article anyways. But maybe I can convince some of you – take the time this week, go to the events, do some superficial self care and let it help you! But the important thing for everyone is that we don’t forget about mental health once this week is over.

Exam season is upon us and I urge you to keep checking in; check in on your friends, and push past the initial ‘yeah i’m fine’ (or whatever the equivalent might be auf Deutsch). Don’t laugh off your issues, it doesn’t help that much. And most importantly check in with yourself, make sure you’re actually doing okay and don’t push yourself too far – exams can always be retaken; your wellbeing is a lot harder to fix than grades. 

Mental health still exists next week, even if you don’t see an instagram post about it. Look after yourself, look after your friends, and go watch Little Miss Sunshine. 

Uni Mannheim offers the following for those who wish to seek support:

  • Psychological Counselling Services through Studerienwerk Mannheim 
  • Advisory Services through the Department of Equal Oppurtunities 
  • 24/7 Mannheim Crisis Service: 0800 111 0 111 oder 0800 111 0 222 
  • Help line for those struggling with their mental health due to the COVID-19 pandemic:  0800 377 377 6

There are also multiple counselling and medical services in Mannheim and surrounding areas, go to for more

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