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University Mental Health Awareness Day 2016 (Thurs 3rd March): Heads Together Watch

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    MINDFULNESS WEBSITES (will talk in a bit about what mindfulness is)

    https://www.headspace.com/ (paying website)

    http://bemindful.co.uk/

    http://mindfulnessinschools.org/
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    MENTALLY DISABLED AT DIFFERENT UNIS - TLG TALKS ABOUT HER EXPERIENCES

    So as mentioned, I attended the University of Oxford for my undergrad, Goldsmiths (University of London) for my MA, and am currently at a different UoL institute for my PhD (of which I am currently 3rd year part-time). I'd like to talk briefly about my experiences of being mentally disabled at these three different institutions.

    Let's start with Oxford, which is where my mental health problems really kicked off. I'd been hearing voices since the age of 5 and regularly since the age of 8, but didn't realise that other people's brains didn't work like that. So I never really said anything to anyone, until the age of 21.

    I don't want to talk too much about my experiences of being mentally disabled at Oxford because they were not happy ones. I felt - and still feel - repeatedly systematically let down by the system at Oxford, for reasons I will not entirely go into here. One thing that is worth flagging up for any prospective applicants is that Oxford did not (and to my knowledge, do not) have a mitigating circumstances exam system in place for those with long-term/recurrent/unpredictable mental health problems. Or any mental health problems at all really. What I mean is that whilst there are reasonable adjustments for those with diagnosed mental health conditions in terms of SITTING the exam, there is no leniency in the marking because (and this was actually said to me) "we don't know how well you would have done had you not had these issues"

    Consequently my current advice to those with mental health problems who are considering Oxford is to apply but not take up the place until/unless all your questions about how your disability may affect your work/grades are answered to your satisfaction. Oxford is not a mental health-friendly environment, due to the high/never-ending/unforgiving workload and the pressure-cooker system. Not to mention that in many subjects, everything rests on your third year exams (so if you're like me and are dangerously ill during your final year exams, you're completely and utterly screwed) :headfire:

    Moving onto Goldsmiths. After applying to Goldsmiths, the very first communication I had was from their disability office. I had been unsure whether to tick the "mental health difficulties box" under the disability section of the application but had done so. The disability office invited me to an open afternoon, and to come and see them about applying for Disabled Students' Allowance. I declined both, saying I did not consider myself to be disabled. The disability office kept poking me though and finally I went to see them with a completed form and agreed to do the needs assessment if my application was approved.

    I am SO grateful to Oz in the disability office (not sure if she's still there, lol) for hounding me about this, because I got SO much help and support from DSA, all tailored to my exact needs. Everything was set up so that, in the case of a major psychotic episode (which did end up happening, sadly), I could work easily from home with all the software and everything I needed. I also was provided with an excellent mental health mentor, who went above and beyond the call of duty to get me through my course. Without her, I'm not sure I would have succeeded!

    Moral of the story: if you're being told to apply for DSA but are not sure, just do it! What's the worst that can happen?!

    Finally, my current uni (a different institute at the University of London). This uni has really wowed me with its provisions and dedication to looking after mentally ill students. They have a specialist mental health advisor on the disability staff team, who looks after the (considerable number of) students with mental health difficulties, needs and/or diagnoses. Again, I was encouraged to apply for DSA and again I got a mental health mentor (sadly I don't get on with her as well as I did with my Goldsmiths mentor). Entirely separate to my DSA provisions, I was also put in touch with a study skills mentor who specialises in working with disabled students. She has been SO helpful and has also gone above and beyond the call of duty

    So yeah, really very impressed by my current uni! Obviously, on the academic side I have my PhD supervisor who (fortunately for me) is very calm, collected and unflummoxed by my various state of ill mental health
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    (Original post by The_Lonely_Goatherd)
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    I remember speaking to you when you were at Oxford and I'm so glad to hear you had a better experience at Goldsmiths. I can't remember our exact messages but I do remember that you made me feel less alone in what I was experiencing at Cambridge. I've said it before but it's so important to be put in contact with someone who understands mental health issues when you're at university - I remember when I told someone what I was experiencing they looked at me like I was from another planet (it wasn't even that extreme what I was experiencing, just basic symptoms of anxiety that anyone with a bit of training would have recognised and been able to reassure me about). I'm sure things have changed at the college I went to since I was there, but I would definitely say that being at Cambridge isn't great if you need a settling in period at university. At Cambridge we were straight into essays and if you're ill and not being supported that first 8 weeks can be intense and overwhelming because you have no space to just stop and be. So yeah, if anyone with mh issues is reading this definitely make sure there's going to be support for you from the moment you arrive at university.

    I hope this makes sense and doesn't come across as me rambling nonsensically. I've just come down with a virus thing and I'm typing this while horizontal.

    Anyway, I got an offer to study at my local college a couple of weeks ago and within about 3 days I had a personalised letter from the disability officer along with a form to fill in. I have to send that back with evidence from my GP and then we'll have a meeting. The evidence is what slows me down a little - I hate having to get evidence, because it's so difficult to convey to your GP exactly how your life is impacted by your problems and what help you need. My old GP had known me for 7 years so that would have been fine, but I just moved house and changed my GP at the end of last year. I'm going to have to write everything down so he'll hopefully be able to understand my history and where I stand now. I wish there was more help with getting evidence like this, as far as I know I have to initiate it all myself and it's difficult going through administrative staff at the doctor's surgery. But hopefully I'll find the DSA helpful and it will make the hassle of filling forms out worthwhile.
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    (Original post by mscaffrey)
    I remember speaking to you when you were at Oxford and I'm so glad to hear you had a better experience at Goldsmiths. I can't remember our exact messages but I do remember that you made me feel less alone in what I was experiencing at Cambridge. I've said it before but it's so important to be put in contact with someone who understands mental health issues when you're at university - I remember when I told someone what I was experiencing they looked at me like I was from another planet (it wasn't even that extreme what I was experiencing, just basic symptoms of anxiety that anyone with a bit of training would have recognised and been able to reassure me about). I'm sure things have changed at the college I went to since I was there, but I would definitely say that being at Cambridge isn't great if you need a settling in period at university. At Cambridge we were straight into essays and if you're ill and not being supported that first 8 weeks can be intense and overwhelming because you have no space to just stop and be. So yeah, if anyone with mh issues is reading this definitely make sure there's going to be support for you from the moment you arrive at university.

    I hope this makes sense and doesn't come across as me rambling nonsensically. I've just come down with a virus thing and I'm typing this while horizontal.

    Anyway, I got an offer to study at my local college a couple of weeks ago and within about 3 days I had a personalised letter from the disability officer along with a form to fill in. I have to send that back with evidence from my GP and then we'll have a meeting. The evidence is what slows me down a little - I hate having to get evidence, because it's so difficult to convey to your GP exactly how your life is impacted by your problems and what help you need. My old GP had known me for 7 years so that would have been fine, but I just moved house and changed my GP at the end of last year. I'm going to have to write everything down so he'll hopefully be able to understand my history and where I stand now. I wish there was more help with getting evidence like this, as far as I know I have to initiate it all myself and it's difficult going through administrative staff at the doctor's surgery. But hopefully I'll find the DSA helpful and it will make the hassle of filling forms out worthwhile.
    I don't remember the exact messages either - were you under a different username then? I do remember talking to someone at Cambridge but not with your username... Then again, I don't remember very much about ANYTHING anymore :erm:

    Thank you for letting me know that I was of some help whilst you were at Cambridge, anyway. I'm so pleased that the disability office from your local college has been in touch. It is a right faff getting evidence, especially with less-known/unknown doctors but remember they should have all the records and correspondence and stuff from your old GP practice on their system. Writing things down is a good idea though - I always find writing better for appointments, than me going in really psychotic (in my case) and just babbling incoherently

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    (Original post by The_Lonely_Goatherd)
    I don't remember the exact messages either - were you under a different username then? I do remember talking to someone at Cambridge but not with your username... Then again, I don't remember very much about ANYTHING anymore :erm:

    Thank you for letting me know that I was of some help whilst you were at Cambridge, anyway. I'm so pleased that the disability office from your local college has been in touch. It is a right faff getting evidence, especially with less-known/unknown doctors but remember they should have all the records and correspondence and stuff from your old GP practice on their system. Writing things down is a good idea though - I always find writing better for appointments, than me going in really psychotic (in my case) and just babbling incoherently

    :lovehug:
    I wrote a history of my migraines down for my non-regular GP at my last surgery last year and he was very impressed. He told me to keep the paper in case any doctors in the future needed it but I put it in a drawer and now it's disappeared. But yeah, it was so much easier than rambling and then leaving the appointment only to remember that I had forgotten to say something.

    And I was a different username :yes:
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    I was but you probably got lots of messages back then. I also hardly remember anything, but I always remember your username because it's very memorable for a musical person.
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    (Original post by mscaffrey)
    I wrote a history of my migraines down for my non-regular GP at my last surgery last year and he was very impressed. He told me to keep the paper in case any doctors in the future needed it but I put it in a drawer and now it's disappeared. But yeah, it was so much easier than rambling and then leaving the appointment only to remember that I had forgotten to say something.

    And I was a different username :yes:...
    That's the username I was thinking of (though couldn't quite remember the spelling/numbers) - I do remember you :lovehug:

    Ah I'm always doing that - putting things away "safely" in a drawer or something and then never finding it again :eek:

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    Am I too late to join in. I am a schizophrenic and have been sectioned a couple of times I left university due to mental illness and study art history part time. I got no help from the university when I became ill there and little help from the NHS. I suffer from grandiose delusions quite frequently and have paranoid conspiracies about friends and family. I'm quite stable now but very isolated. Am I too late to join this thread?
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    (Original post by N-R-G)
    Am I too late to join in. I am a schizophrenic and have been sectioned a couple of times I left university due to mental illness and study art history part time. I got no help from the university when I became ill there and little help from the NHS. I suffer from grandiose delusions quite frequently and have paranoid conspiracies about friends and family. I'm quite stable now but very isolated. Am I too late to join this thread?
    Sorry to hear of all you've been through :console: It's not UMHAD 2016 anymore obviously, but am happy to keep conversations going if there are people to converse with!

    Though I am going AWOL for a few days, but do post whatever you like (within reason and adhering to TSR rules about triggering topics) and I'll reply on Friday evening
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    (Original post by The_Lonely_Goatherd)
    Sorry to hear of all you've been through :console: It's not UMHAD 2016 anymore obviously, but am happy to keep conversations going if there are people to converse with!

    Though I am going AWOL for a few days, but do post whatever you like (within reason and adhering to TSR rules about triggering topics) and I'll reply on Friday evening
    ok thanks LGH and have a nice time.
 
 
 
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