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What mental health support is available at universities these days?

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Applying to Uni? Let Universities come to you. Click here to get your perfect place 20-10-2014
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    I'm asking as when I was a teenager/early twenties there wasn't anything available. I was educated before the 1983 Mental Health Act. Treatment services were basic and social services was, in comparison to the modern service model, in its infancy.

    So, now I'm older and looking to return to education as I wish to slightly change my career path. I'll hopefully be studying at Durham or Exeter September 2013 if all goes to plan and this requires moving from London.

    It will be a major change for me. Both universities state that I would have to live in halls for the first year. I have a mood disorder and suffer mild to chronic depressive episodes often accompanied by both paranoia and anxiety.

    So, back to the main question. What is available nowadays to support potentially vulnerable students? I need to plan ahead and ensure I have prepared myself a package that enables me to manage my condition effectively.

    Thank you in advance for your time and replies.
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    You should a drop an email to the universities in question most universities will often have a department dedicated to assisting students who have disabilities or other health issues. The level of support will vary depending on the university, but most will typically provide access to counselling services and will also arrange other measures should you need them such as deadline extensions, alternative examination arrangements, lecture print outs, etc.

    May also be worth looking into DSA if you feel that your condition may have an impact upon your ability to study: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Disabled...on/DG_10034898
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    Firstly, I love your username

    I actually go to Exeter now (1st year). Honestly, there isn't a lot but I've been working with the Students Guild and things are improving. We're getting a mood disorders centre, which is opening some time next month (or this month -- can't remember). There's a demand for mental health support so the students and guild are all trying to do it because the uni themselves don't really address the problem. I was shocked when I came here because there are lots of people with eating disorders but there was no support for them and the counselling service is always swamped with people. What did I do? Got the backing from the guild, who then appealed to the uni on my behalf, to set up an ED group.

    I have severe depression. I went for a counselling session but it wasn't useful. I have my days when I won't step out of my room because my depression is that crippling but as I say, whatever the uni doesn't have, the guild are getting on our behalf, free of charge!
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    I've been to 2 universities and at my previous university there was a good counselling service, a mental health adviser and a disability team which if your depression has been going on for more than a year, you can use that service too. There was probably more available but if there was then I wasn't made aware of it. Waiting time for the counselling service was only about 2-3 weeks though which i hear is better than the average university wait time.

    At my current university there is a counselling service which i haven't used yet, there's a mental health support officer who i saw who helped loads, he helped put alternate exam arrangements in place and signed me up for mentoring (see a mentor for 1 hour per week) funded by the university until DSA came through and told me about all other services available. In my course school area there is also a support tutor who helps with anything related to personal problems including mental health. Some tutors are good too, i'm lucky with mine since his son suffered severe depression and had to see a psychiatrist when he went to university.

    But yeah there's quite a lot of support on offer if you don't mind counselling-style kinda stuff, but even if not then they can make things easier by extending coursework deadlines if you're going through a rough patch and you can take exams in a separate room to everyone else if it makes you anxious being around other people etc. I went through a rough patch from november up until a few weeks ago actually and I'm told that the exam boards consider if there's been a considerable dip in performance (if accompanied by mitigating circumstances evidence) at the end of the degree so may bump it up slightly.
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    (Original post by fire2burn)
    You should a drop an email to the universities in question most universities will often have a department dedicated to assisting students who have disabilities or other health issues.

    May also be worth looking into DSA if you feel that your condition may have an impact upon your ability to study: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Disabled...on/DG_10034898
    Thanks. I'll actually see if I can make appointments with relevant departments and incorporate into open day visits. Re: DSA, I did a dummy run application to student finance and received notification that I am entitled to fees plus DSA grant. Obviously won't sign it lol but I'll make a new application next year.

    And thanks for (mod)ification of the other thread.


    (Original post by jazzykinks)
    Firstly, I love your username

    I actually go to Exeter now (1st year). Honestly, there isn't a lot but I've been working with the Students Guild and things are improving. We're getting a mood disorders centre, which is opening some time next month (or this month -- can't remember). There's a demand for mental health support so the students and guild are all trying to do it because the uni themselves don't really address the problem. I was shocked when I came here because there are lots of people with eating disorders but there was no support for them and the counselling service is always swamped with people. What did I do? Got the backing from the guild, who then appealed to the uni on my behalf, to set up an ED group.

    I have severe depression. I went for a counselling session but it wasn't useful. I have my days when I won't step out of my room because my depression is that crippling but as I say, whatever the uni doesn't have, the guild are getting on our behalf, free of charge!
    Just in case you don't speak spanish it means sealion (or wolf of the sea ion a literal translation due to it's cute face and whiskers). First encountered sealions about 8 years ago whilst doing some scuba off the Mexican Pacific coast. Scuba is excellent therapy for mental health if you ever get the chance....

    Well done for speaking up and increasing support for yourself and other students!


    (Original post by Lewk)
    I've been to 2 universities and at my previous university there was a good counselling service, a mental health adviser and a disability team which if your depression has been going on for more than a year, you can use that service too. There was probably more available but if there was then I wasn't made aware of it. Waiting time for the counselling service was only about 2-3 weeks though which i hear is better than the average university wait time.

    At my current university there is a counselling service which i haven't used yet, there's a mental health support officer who i saw who helped loads, he helped put alternate exam arrangements in place and signed me up for mentoring (see a mentor for 1 hour per week) funded by the university until DSA came through and told me about all other services available. In my course school area there is also a support tutor who helps with anything related to personal problems including mental health. Some tutors are good too, i'm lucky with mine since his son suffered severe depression and had to see a psychiatrist when he went to university.

    But yeah there's quite a lot of support on offer if you don't mind counselling-style kinda stuff, but even if not then they can make things easier by extending coursework deadlines if you're going through a rough patch and you can take exams in a separate room to everyone else if it makes you anxious being around other people etc. I went through a rough patch from november up until a few weeks ago actually and I'm told that the exam boards consider if there's been a considerable dip in performance (if accompanied by mitigating circumstances evidence) at the end of the degree so may bump it up slightly.
    Thanks for the feedback. It pleases me that universities appear to providing more support for their students. Hope everything goes well for you.
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    Hello
    My friend studies at Durham University and she has severe depression, suicidal thoughts/ intentions, mild manic episodes. She has a really good support system, a great, caring GP, wonderful councillor and a mental health crisis team. She said that their mental health services are really good.
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    los lobos marinos: I'm fluent :P
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    It's a bit of a monopoly really, because you can only have either counselling or CBT, and then you can be on the waiting list for ages.
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    (Original post by los lobos marinos)
    Scuba is excellent therapy for mental health if you ever get the chance....
    As long as you are well enough to do it:
    http://tinyurl.com/7sybflv
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    (Original post by los lobos marinos)
    Scuba is excellent therapy for mental health if you ever get the chance....
    (Original post by GordonP)
    As long as you are well enough to do it:
    http://tinyurl.com/7sybflv
    It was only after I had completed my first scuba course in Italy that I some of many articles available on the web re depression and scuba.

    I have bought the subject up with my psychiatrist, psychotherapist, OT, crisis team and dive instructors and they have all said is okay. You see, the link is theoretical and dependant on prevailing symptoms.

    There are times when my mood is really low. When I hate myself, am racked with guilt and positive I am worthless piece of s**t. I don't sleep, eat or drink to the point where I've lost a couple of stone in weight and my lips are cracking open and bleeding with dehydration. My anxiety is so high that I cannot breathe properly, my speech is slurred and stammering. I cannot even go down the stairs or cross the road as the shaking makes me mobile. And the hours of crying. Punching my walls, smashing windows and doors with my frustration. The times the police turn up following reports received from people concerned for my welfare. And the suicidal ambition, set plans are all there too. And thoughts about harming other people. Being bombarded with thoughts, emotions and this bloody voice that won't leave me alone.

    Now, when I'm in that mood I would not be suitable for scuba (I'm laughing while I type that sentence as it is such a ludicrous understatement). I would be placing myself and others at risk. But when I'm well (relatively speaking as the dumbass voice in my head never goes away) I can dive.

    And I'll tell you something, diving is awesome. It is literally the only time I am free from myself. The only voice I hear is my truthful one, the only thoughts I have are the nice ones. For the half hour to 45 minute duration of a dive I am at peace. In a constant state of wonderment and joy, marvelling at this fantastic world around me and feeling at peace. I am released from the pain of life.

    Take a look at this article titled "Diving with Depression".

    If you can focus enough to study then you can focus on scuba and other concentration intensive pass-times.
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    (Original post by los lobos marinos)
    I have bought the subject up with my psychiatrist, psychotherapist, OT, crisis team and dive instructors and they have all said is okay. You see, the link is theoretical and dependant on prevailing symptoms.

    ...

    Take a look at this article titled "Diving with Depression".

    If you can focus enough to study then you can focus on scuba and other concentration intensive pass-times.
    The link I gave is quite theoretical, but the UK Sport Diving Medical Committee are the guys that advise the medical referees - so the information contained is accurate (but intended to be interpreted by a doctor). There is slightly more to it than being able to 'focus enough to study'.

    I only posted it to make sure people reading your post recognise that there are some contraindications to diving depending on symptoms, current medication, etc. so not everyone will be able to take your advice.
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    (Original post by GordonP)
    There is slightly more to it than being able to 'focus enough to study'.
    I agree. An over-simplification of a complex subject. Guilty as charged lol

    (Original post by GoprdonP)
    I only posted it to make sure people reading your post recognise that there are some contraindications to diving depending on symptoms, current medication, etc. so not everyone will be able to take your advice.
    You see, what concerns me, as that it so easy to consider mental health as an obstacle or barrier in accessing things that the vast majority consider normal.

    Your advice is correct, not everyone would be suitable. However, others may not try scuba or other pass-times due to theoretical obstacles that may or may not be relevant to them as an individual. In a controlled environment the risk, in my opinion would be negated.

    So, if for example you had an introductory dive in a swimming pool or in 1metre deep coastal waters and the instructor was advised of the potential problems then maybe it could work.

    You have given good advice that I agree with wholeheartedly. Just wanted to add that mental health service users should be vary wary of considering the mental health a barrier to enjoying fun things. Everyone is different.

    +rep for your Gordon for your excellent advice.
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    (Original post by los lobos marinos)
    I'm asking as when I was a teenager/early twenties there wasn't anything available. I was educated before the 1983 Mental Health Act. Treatment services were basic and social services was, in comparison to the modern service model, in its infancy.

    So, now I'm older and looking to return to education as I wish to slightly change my career path. I'll hopefully be studying at Durham or Exeter September 2013 if all goes to plan and this requires moving from London.

    It will be a major change for me. Both universities state that I would have to live in halls for the first year. I have a mood disorder and suffer mild to chronic depressive episodes often accompanied by both paranoia and anxiety.

    So, back to the main question. What is available nowadays to support potentially vulnerable students? I need to plan ahead and ensure I have prepared myself a package that enables me to manage my condition effectively.

    Thank you in advance for your time and replies.
    All universities typically have a counselling service now, and many are making good steps in recognising the mental welfare of their students - for example, many universities are employing mental health support workers or advisers to specifically support students with mental health difficulties. It all depends by university though. I'm at Nottingham, wherein there is only one mental health support worker (and counselling services) - whereas Nottingham Trent Uni have a whole mental health team!

    Disability Support at universities provide advice on how you can apply for DSA funding etc, as well as providing support to help make reasonable adjustments for you should your needs require it (e.g. assessment extensions). It would also be worthwhile discussing your needs prior to you entering or choosing university to ensure that they can be met - again disability services or mental health support workers are probably best for that.

    If you are relocating for university and you are currently accessing your GP for support for your mood disorder, there is the possibility of discussing it with them and "transferring" your notes and care to your new GP in Exeter or Durham. That might help in continuing your access to care etc.

    Good luck
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    All universities as far as I know have a counselling service, and disability advisers. At my last uni I had a mentor who I saw every week and she helped me to plan my work etc. What each uni has will differ though, so you should contact the ones you are interested in applying to.
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    I only got round to registering my depression with the Disability Support Office at my uni this year (I'm in fourth year) and so far they've not done a massive amount apart for helping me apply for DSA and running through a few of the ways they might be able to help me - stuff like making it easier to get deadline extensions, make lecture slides available pre-class, informing lecturers that I might have some difficulties which they should take into account, a note taker if I wanted one, extra time in exams, have more directed reading lists for when I can't concentrate so much to extract information, getting a mentor, stuff like that (although a lot of what they offered wasn't really relevant to me). I suspect rather more of this stuff might have been implemented if I hadn't kept missing appointments and failing to rearrange them though...

    My personal tutor has been a great help to me - always willing to listen to or offer suggestions to help me do better/stay on at uni. Some things she's helped me with: switch to studying part-time (a lot less stress than full-time), take periods of up to several weeks off to sort myself out/concentrate on coursework, allowed me to drop a module without penalty on the understanding that I'll re-take it next year, and arranged for me to take two years off from uni (originally I was going to go back at the start of the next academic year, then the next one, but I was still very ill so chose not to).

    My lecturers have also been helpful, offering me alternatives such as doing presentations just in front of them rather than the class, or letting me off from doing them at all (although this did lose me the 5% of my grade I could have got), and being allowed to submit work late via email rather than handing it in in class at the same time as everyone else.

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