Calling all Freshers: We’re here if you need us, say Samaritans in Wales

As young people from all over Wales start university for the first time, Samaritans Cymru is reminding freshers and students that its volunteers are available any time of day or night to listen if they are struggling to cope. You can speak, in confidence, to a listening volunteer by telephone, text or email, or by visiting a local branch. Above all, Samaritans wants all freshers to know that if they are struggling, for whatever reason, they do not have to face their problems alone.

Nicola Gee, ex-student and now Samaritans volunteer, struggled with the way that she felt while at university and talks about her experience: ‘I have always been hard working but somehow, academic challenges seemed overwhelming. My grades and attendance record remained strong, but I constantly felt I was falling behind and was totally preoccupied with thoughts of failure.’

A 1st class honours student, Nicola always rose to the challenge, however, as her mood sank lower and lower, she began to react very differently to academic pressure. ‘My close friends and boyfriend started to see that something was very wrong. I spent hours and hours alone in my bedroom and stopped socialising almost completely.’ Nicola’s friends and boyfriend encouraged her to seek the help that she needed, which led her to call Samaritans. Having a listening ear helped Nicola understand the way she was feeling and prompted her to take action to improve her mood

Reflecting back on her experience, Nicola thinks that having someone to listen to her had a huge impact on her life: ‘I wouldn’t want any student who was struggling to cope to end up feel alone or isolated. Not everyone will have university friends who can be trusted with such difficult thoughts and feelings which is why I recommend Samaritans. Its army of volunteers are available any time of day or night to provide the time and space for people to talk about what is getting to them. If you are struggling to settle into student life, please contact a Samaritans volunteer as soon as possible.

A survey released by Samaritans in July 2015 revealed that the majority of young people feared admitting that they were struggling with life. More than half (52.3%) of 16-24 year-olds in the UK felt there was a a stigma around admitting that you’re struggling to cope with something. Yet, two-fifths (40.9%) say they sometimes felt overwhelmed by their problems.* Young adults are the least likely to want to burden others with their problems and the most likely to feel ‘embarrassed’ or ‘weak’ if they do, the survey found. A fifth (20.5%) feared they’ll be seen as ‘weird’.

Elsewhere, the survey also revealed that many young people had strong listening skills, with 45.5% saying that people went to them with their problems. Samaritans are calling on freshers to utilise these listening skills and watch out for friends who may be struggling with the way that they are feeling.

Sarah Stone, Executive Director for Wales, said: “University life is often portrayed as a wild, fun journey of self-discovery.  Whilst that can be the case for some, the reality is that moving away from home, making new friends, managing a new workload and financial pressures can be a struggle for many young people.

“As Freshers Week begins, Samaritans is making an urgent plea to new students to remember that help is always at hand. Samaritans know that having a listening ear when times get tough helps people work through their problems. If you, or anybody you know, is struggling to cope, for whatever reason, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can tell us anything, it stays between us.”

People can contact Samaritans at any time from any phone for FREE on 116 123, even from a mobile without any credit, and the number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can email jo@samaritans.org or go to www.samaritans.org/branches to find details of your local branch. Samaritans offers round-the-clock support for anyone who’s struggling, whoever they are, however they are feeling, and whatever life has done to them.

-ENDS-

For more information, interviews or images, please contact the Press team on: 029 2022 2008 or email e.harris@samaritans.org

Notes to editors:

  • Findings are based on Samaritans 2015 Talk to Us Survey. Samaritans’ #TalkToUs 2015 online survey was carried out between 27 May & 2 June 2015. A nationally representative sample of 1600 adults was surveyed. A summary is available at www.samaritans.org
  • Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year. We provide a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them. You can contact Samaritans at any time from any phone for FREE on 116 123, even from a mobile without any credit, and the number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can email jo@samaritans.org or go to www.samaritans.org to find details of your local branch.