This post is more about something I am passionate about and that I wish I could have more impact on in my day to day job working in a University. This week is Mental Health Awareness week so here I go :
I won’t bore you with my sob story about what I went through as a student but I will tell you this; Depression, Anxiety and Agoraphobia while you’re studying for a degree is no joke! I fully believe that student mental health should be at the top of the agenda for all higher education institutions. The one I work at has services in place to help students but they are not always accessible.
The building where counselling services resides is like any other on campus but has a back entrance and is not clearly signposted (as far as I can see) . I had concerns walking into it that everyone would know where I was going and why. But there would be no way of telling what happens in there. I don’t think there should be a big flashing sign outside and I don’t think there should be someone outside shouting “roll up, roll up, come and unload your worries and woes here!” but there are definite barriers that prolong the road to recovery, or coping with what you live with and I think this could be the case at any University.
Firstly there is getting a doctors appointment (you need their referral to get further help) this can take an age especially in a popular GP surgery. You then need to take a small tick box style test (I don’t know the medical name) some doctors will refer you from this, other will ask you to come back in 2 weeks to complete it again.
Most doctors will then refer you to talking therapies which relies on you actively making an appointment, for those who struggle to get out of bed in the morning, this is like climbing a mountain. Many cast the leaflets into the bin and resign the cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT) to balderdash and poppy cock! (it’s easy to be skeptical when you’re at your lowest) Some people may also be referred to a counsellor, again this relies on you going to the building (I didn’t have the option to call) and making the appointment. Finding one (usually weeks of waiting) and ensuring that it fits in with your lecture/study schedule (if you’re still going to them, that is) is a challenge. You then have to turn up and make sure you stick it out for the course of sessions you are given.
For those who don’t believe in/don’t take the option of talking therapies like CBT or counselling they may choose to take anti-depressants. Some people can take a long time to find the right medication and dosage for them. In my opinion they work best while you try other coping strategies as well and doctors will agree they are not a “happy pill”. I felt like they took the edge off of things and my head didn’t feel so crowded with thoughts, which was good but it wasn’t without its difficulties. I faced further challenges having to register with another doctor who prescribed me something that was no longer being produced (cue painful withdrawal). If you want to know more or chat about my case then get in touch with me.
I am just one person, but I know of others who have been through similar and worse things! Mental Health among the student population is worrying. A quarter of University Students are estimated to experience worrying levels of mental distress at some point in the year. Though we know that student mental health is something that everyone involved in university education should be thinking about, it is not always clear what should be done.
Student Run Self Help want to piece together a better picture of where the problems lie please take a few minutes to complete their survey –https://docs.google.com/a/srsh.co.uk/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dDhEbGdNNGpiMFY5eVBGdXVqZVVYeFE6MQ#gid=0
It simply asks what you think the biggest challenges are for student mental health. Fill in the boxes and have your say!