What to do if your mental health is impacting your education

It can be tough to deal with mental health difficulties in school or college, but there is help out there

Written by spunout


For many people, the years spent in school and college can have their ups and downs. It is normal to feel stress during the academic year and even to have some anxiety around homework, assignments, and exams.

However, if you are having a hard time, or if you’re struggling with a mental illness, you might feel like you have less energy to focus on your education. The pressure of school or college work can also make mental health difficulties worse. Know that if you are dealing with mental health issues in school or college, there are people there to support you.

Signs your mental health is impacting your education

Here are some things to look out for:

  • You are falling below your usual standards in your work
  • School or college is not as enjoyable as it used to be
  • Everyday scenarios are making you anxious
  • Having a hard time concentrating or focusing properly
  • Skipping school or college entirely because it feels too overwhelming
  • Interacting with friends and classmates less often

What to do if mental health is impacting on your education

Whether you’re in school or college, there are people and places you can turn to for support if you are struggling with your mental health, you don’t have to go through it alone.

Talk to someone

Are the people closest to you aware of what you’re thinking and feeling? The best thing you can do if you’re struggling is talk to someone. Open up to a parent, family member, friend, teacher or lecturer, or someone else you trust and let them know what’s going on.

Having someone to talk to can be a huge relief. Learn more about opening up to someone about your mental health.

Let the school or college know

There are people in your school or college who can listen to you and support you in whatever you’re going through. You will not be the first student to come to them with mental health difficulties, and the school or college should have a procedure in place for supporting students who are struggling.

If you’re in school, talk to a teacher or a guidance counsellor who you trust. Let them know what’s going on and how it is impacting on your ability to do your work. Ask if there’s anything the school can do to support you.

If you’re in college, the Welfare Officer of your Students’ Union will know what supports are available and what steps you can take next. Most college campuses will have a free or affordable counselling service where you can talk to someone in confidence about what you’re going through.

Supports are available to you once you let the right people know.

Having a tough time and need to talk? Text SPUNOUT to 50808 to chat anonymously with a trained volunteer. Standard text rates may apply.

Make an appointment with the school or college counsellor

Seeing a counsellor can help you to work through your feelings and emotions in a safe space. If you are in school, ask to make an appointment with the school counsellor. They are there to listen to you and offer support.

If you are in college, there is most likely a free or affordable counselling service on your campus, available to any student who needs it. You can also visit the campus medical centre and speak to a doctor about what’s going on, and they can also suggest the best place for you to go next. Talk to the Welfare Officer of your Students’ Union if you’re not sure where to start.

Consider taking a leave of absence

If you’re in third-level education and feel your mental health is significantly impacting on your education, you may be able to take a leave of absence. This means taking a break from college, usually for a year, and returning to your course when your leave of absence is over. The process is different in each college. To find out how about taking a leave of absence, speak to the Student Affairs office to find out what steps to take. Learn more about taking a leave of absence. If you decide to work during this time, make sure to maintain a work-life balance in order to make sure your mental health benefits from this time off college.

If you’re still in school, it might be more difficult to take time off for your mental health. If this is the case, it’s important that your family and school officials know how you are feeling so that they can support you and help you through this.

Feeling stressed or overwhelmed?

  • Get anonymous support 24/7 with our text message support service
  • Connect with a trained volunteer who will listen to you, and help you to move forward feeling better
  • Text SPUNOUT to 50808 to begin
  • Find out more about our text message support service

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