Published: March 6, 2019
This year’s University Mental Health day is all about the power of using your voice. We all have mental health, we all have stories to share and we can all use our voices to shape the future of student mental health. This is Alice's story.
Having a diagnosis of depression and PTSD prior to starting university, I was embarrassed about sharing my difficulties with others. Some people told me I wouldn't be able to cope at university and achieve a degree, and I certainly would not be able to pursue my aspiration of being a teacher because of my mental health. The Wellbeing Team have helped me to normalise my difficulties to the point where I am no longer embarrassed about them.
How did you find out about the Wellbeing services here at the university?
My GP was eager for me to start university and personally looked into services that would help with my mental health alongside my studies. As I have progressed through university there has been a lot more publicity for the services offered here.
What are some of the struggles you have faced whilst being a student here?
Firstly, I struggled with the change... going from just being someone's mother to a student was immense pressure! I struggled with managing my time with my son and my studies, but gradually it just became the norm. In regard to my mental health, there were times during my degree when my depression was really bad. During these periods I had a lot of self-doubt about whether I could continue university, but I was always supported by wellbeing who ensured I stayed on track.
How has Tracey and the team helped/supported you during your time here?
When I accessed the Wellbeing Team, I was immediately allocated a mental health advisor who was one of the most amazing and trustworthy people I have ever met. She always made time for me, and no matter what was going on in my personal life, I was always made to believe in myself. If I needed to speak to someone urgently and she was not available, there was always a member of the team willing to speak with me, even Tracey herself. I have become well known within the services, and truly believe I could not have got this far in my degree without their ongoing support.
How do you balance your studies alongside being a mum?
With help from my family mainly, they have been supportive of my decision to pursue my education and helped immensely with childcare. My son has Autism and needs to attend regular hospital appointments meaning it can sometimes be difficult to balance time between my revision and assignments. Any mother would agree that having a child means fitting your life around theirs, but he is always my priority.
What advice would you give to other students struggling?
Speak to Wellbeing! It seems a lot of students I have spoken to have been apprehensive of seeking support in fear of being penalised. There is a clear misconception that someone at degree level, should not be struggling and that is not the case at all. University can be hard, and we are only human.
What are your goals for the future?
I have always wanted to be a secondary school English teacher, I had an interview for my PGCE a few days ago here at the university and I was given a conditional offer, so I am extremely confident I will be starting in September.