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Studying at university with a mental illness

I’m Em, I’m a third-year student studying Sports Development, and I suffer from anxiety and depression. In this blog i'm going to talk about my experiences accessing support at university.

Studying with a mental illness blog

In Sixth Form I had excellent support from a Pastoral Officer, helping me to manage my mental health problem as well as my studies, and so I was terrified of coming to University and losing that.

However, things were the complete opposite. I couldn’t have asked for anything more than the support I received.

Applicant Process

Before university I was already prepared for studying alongside managing my mental health problem. In my UCAS application, I had to fill out a section about mental health. Not long after accepting my place at University, I received an email from the disability team at Leeds Beckett asking me to come in for an assessment.

In the assessment the team determined what help might be useful for me whilst studying at university. I received appliances, support with assessments and advice from the team that has really helped me whilst at uni.

Support Available

I am very lucky at university, that my personal tutor and other tutors are extremely supportive. For me I prefer to reach out to people that I have got to know and formed trust with, which is why I chose to turn to my tutors when I needed help. However, I know the university’s disability and student wellbeing team are always there for me if I need them.

When starting university, people may not fully understand the role your tutors play in your student journey. They do not purely just teach you in lectures and seminars, and that’s it. They are there for any support you might need, in which they may be able to help you themselves, or they will point you in the right direction to someone who may be better at helping.

I have been extremely lucky and I’m ridiculously grateful for my tutors at university. Without them supporting me, I don’t think I would have been able to get through my years at uni.

One type of support that I have accessed a few times whilst at university is mitigation for assessments. This is available for students suffering from mental health problems who may need some extra time with their assessments for multiple reasons, which are down to the effects mental health can have on you. This has been hugely important and helpful for me, and something that I would recommend to individuals with mental illnesses. The disability and student wellbeing team will sort this out for you in your assessment.

My Advice

There are three main pieces of advice I would give someone who is going to Leeds Beckett University and suffering from mental health issues.

Disability Assessment – Either before starting university or once you get there make sure you get in contact with the disability team and have an assessment. You may not use all the services/support they offer or find it useful, but it is definitely worthwhile to go to make yourself aware of all that is available to you whilst at university if you may need it.

Ask for help – The most important thing is to carry on speaking and asking for help, whether that be with one of the disability team members or your tutors… keep talking. It’s really important for your journey at uni, to not bottle things up and let them get on top of you – because they will! So keep talking, keep asking for help, and make use of the people around you.

Enjoy yourself – When suffering from mental health issues the symptoms can really get on top of you; the stress of exams/assignments, the general low moods, or the lack of motivation to do things, etc… But university really is some of the best years in your life, so make the most of them, and enjoy yourself because the years will fly be! (Even though some days it can be really hard to).

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About the Author

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Emily T

Hi, I’m Em and i’m a second year student at Leeds Beckett currently studying Sport Development. I was born in Leeds and then grew up in Harrogate. My hobbies match my course; I love football, going to the gym, going on walks and seeing my family & friends.

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